After what some are calling “Snowmageddon,” I’m keeping an eye on our plants. Some still have lush, green leaves sprouting out all over them. Some even have buds. But y’all, it’s looking pretty rough for the oleanders. How will I know if they survived the ice storm? They’ll show me in time. If they’ve made it, those crunchy yellow leaves will eventually replace themselves. Lush, scarlet blooms will unfurl. If not, the only thing I know to do is to dig them up and replace them. Dead things don’t bear fruit.

I helped teach preschool when I first came to faith in Christ. We sang the “Fruit of the Spirit” song, and it still hangs in my head decades later. Back then, I thought that I was supposed to work hard to make sure my life was characterized by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-contro-o-ol!” It was up to me to do what “good” Christians do.

Twenty or so years later, I view this differently. Thriving things naturally bear fruit. It’s what they do. They almost can’t help it. It’s an overflow of the thriving. So, now I know I can use my handy, dandy Fruit-O-Meter to help me gauge my level of thriving.

If my life is bearing fruit, I can be humbled with gratitude. After all, the fruit originated not from my own striving, but from the connection to my life-bearing Source, Jesus Christ. Fruit is what results from a day-to-day practice of closeness with my Lord and Savior.

If I’m struggling with showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-contro-o-ol), I know what I need to do. It’s not that I need to try harder and harder; it’s that I need to reconnect to my Source. He will work the change in my heart, and it will evidence itself in my life.

Here is an idea to consider: a healthy plant is one that has nutrients running through every part of it. Back in my preschool-teaching days, I was mostly concerned about showing my fruit to others. I worried that they might look at my life and judge me to be spiritually barren. Now I know that a life connected to Jesus will manifest fruit on the inside as well. I’ll show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control toward myself, too. I’ll forgive myself as a natural overflow of the forgiveness Jesus offers me. I’ll treat myself in a trustworthy manner, rather than betraying my own needs. I’ll take good care of my mind, my body, and my heart. It will happen naturally.

I invite you to use your handy, dandy Fruit-O-Meter to help you gauge your level of thriving. And if you realize that you’ve been experiencing your own “Snowmageddon” season, take heart. Today can be the day you draw near to your Savior. He loves you, and in him, you have everything you need to thrive!