Tom sat quietly with his head bowed. Men on either side of him filedout of the small chapel. A friend reached toward him, as though to awaken a sleepingworshipper, then paused and withdrew his hand. Tom attended the Christian Men's Retreat "tomake his wife happy." God had something else in mind. The impression was strong, "goquickly to your friend and lead him into my Kingdom." I hesitated a moment, wondering if itwas really God. A different voice immediately said, "give God just a few more minutes toprepare Tom's heart". "That seems reasonable," I thought. A pastor stepped quickly fromthe rear of the chapel, spoke with Tom briefly and then led him in a prayer to receive JesusChrist as his personal Savior.
In a flash of understanding, I knew what had happened. God prepared Tom's heart for this moment and offered me an opportunity to 'harvest fruit in his vinyard'. I hesitated. The enemy pounced on the opening, suggesting delay, more thought, --- anything that might get Tom out of the chapel without Christ! I listened and agreed. God moved quickly to another worker who was listening only to his voice. I rejoiced in my friend's salvation, and knowing that as God passed through my hesitation, he left behind the fruit of deeper understanding in my heart.
God always produces Spiritual watermelons when he is at work. Believers have nopower or ability to produce even the smallest grapes by their own power. They add nothing toGod's work. Still, like a loving father guiding the paint brush in a child's hand, God graciouslyinvites believers to participate in his work. The fruit of God's Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22) confirmsGod's work in the believer. Spiritual fruit in others, confirm God's work through the believer. Spiritual fruit in believers and others confirm God's voice to the believer.
Believers learn to distinguish God's voice from others by acting in faith and watching forfruit. A lack of Spiritual fruit confirms the believer is acting independently of God. Thus, onecan learn to 'hear God' through fruitful obedience or even unfruitful disobedience. Peter learnedas much about listening to God from his denial and failed water-walking attempt, as from threeyears of watching Christ's miracles and teaching (Luke 22:60-62, Matt. 14:28-31).
Many are slow to detect Spiritual watermelons in the efforts of others, yet quick torecognize their own Spiritual grapes. This tendency sometimes makes believers prone to confusethe praise of men, with Spiritual fruit (John 12:43). It is far easier to continue fruitless religiousactivity, than to admit that one's fruitless branch is detached from the vine. "I am the vine; youare the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me youcan do nothing" (John 15:5). It is far better to acknowledge and stop fruitless activity, than tocontinue on without God.
God is producing magnificent 'watermelons' in Tom's life. Tom now composes and playsmarveouls Christian music and tells others of his faith and God's amazing work. He seeks Goddaily in his life, home and work, and is now living a fruitful, Christ-centered life. (#19)