Do you ever get to a place where life is good. God is good. His blessings fall easily, like late Autumn apples, sweet and effortless.
And I enjoy them and glory in Him, and are humbled by the knowledge that I no more earned the ripe blessings than made that tree bloom.
And then it happens.
I start to try to earn it. Try to give back to God. It starts sincerely and rightly as an effort to bless Him. And slowly it degrades, like that same apple left untended on the orchard floor. Instead of an act of pure joy, it becomes something owed. The sheer bounty of his blessing becomes fearsome. After all, I have not deserved this. Not earned it. Done nothing but receive.
That can't be enough.
I have to give. Have to be. Have to abstain. Have to somehow deserve. It's simply not fair, otherwise.
And instead of smiling in the sunshine and letting sweetness fill my mouth and dribble down my throat and down my chin, I start working. Hauling water, when the tree grew well enough with the rain. Reaching for fruit that has yet to fall so I might hand it out to others, though it's time and perhaps theirs has not come.
And as I stretch for a fruit, as I strain the muscles in my side, as sweat rolls down my temples, and my toes bite the earth, the sun fills my eyes, dominating my sight.
And so does the truth.
And the breath of a breeze caresses all of me, bearing a Voice, low and rich and sweet. "My dearest, stop striving. Sit in the shade of the tree I've made and eat the fruit I've gifted you."
"But...I can't. It'd be too dangerous. I, just me, am not enough. And I'm afraid you'll realize that. What if you see me taking, resting, and you realize I have done nothing to earn this?"
A beam of sun wraps like a blanket around me, warm, gentle, and undeniable. "I did not give this to you because you earned it, Beloved. I gave it because I love you and I want you to have it. The truth is, I love to see you bask in the shade. I love the little noise you make when you slurp the sweet juice. I love the way you wipe your chin on your wrist when you think no one is watching. I just love you."
"But what if tomorrow that changes? I have to be fruitful. Indispensable. It's true in any organization. You have to create value to have value. I want to matter. To know that you'll love me always, because of what I can do for you."
"My dearest, I'm so mad for you that nothing you do can grow that. This love is too big to grow. And until you see that, I will not give you any tasks, ask for any help. Just sit in the shade I've given you, while I've given it to you, and enjoy what comes your way."
"So it won't always be this way? I'll get to be productive again?"
"Of course. But even then, the work we do will be greatest when you do it with me and not for me. Not a debt, not a bribe, just a partnership. Two twined spirits, walking through this land together."
"Oh. Are you sure?"
Dearest Jesus, my precious Lord, you possess my heart, my life, my all. I will revel in the gifts you've given today. And I'll rest in you. And when the day comes that you ask much of me, I will not walk without you. Not give to earn you. I will, by your grace and your spirit, walk with you.
All my love.