I don’t know how my husband managed this, but he suspiciously was never around to answer those wonderful questions our children asked concerning the behavior of our outdoor cats. That responsibility fell on me. I may have lied and told them that the cats were in love and married. Don’t worry, my kids now know the truth through numerous uncomfortable conversations.
I figure if I can brave the awkward topic of reproduction with my kids, I can talk to you about it, too. We’re all adults, right? (Yeah, I know none of us really want to go there. You might want to sit down.)
Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Marriage is a beautiful covenant created by God for us. This promise is to be a symbol of our union with Christ. He wants to be one with His church. I was thinking about this the other day and the roles given to Him and us. Jesus is the groom and we are His bride. Interesting that it isn’t the other way around.
We see the first marriage in Genesis. After God created Eve out of and for Adam (as we were created out of and for Christ), He commands them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). The relationship God made to be symbolic of our relationship with Christ is a life producing union. It is an intimate relationship of promise, creating generations and multiplying. I came across the following verse while studying this topic:
Hosea 14:8 ESV
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.
God says to be fruitful and yet fruitfulness comes from Him. It made me think back to the concept of Christ and His church, of a husband and wife. The wife bears the “fruit,” but the husband provides the seed. (Stay with me here.) When researching the number of sperm cells released in one “event,” the number was in the MILLIONS. Seems a little excessive, but God has His reasons, I’m sure.
Why venture into these waters? God sends life our way in abundance, giving the hope deep within our being ample opportunity for life and growth. He wants us to produce fruit and multiply His likeness. Even as a man is able to contribute to life at any point in the month (unlike a woman), Jesus remains the constant Source of life to us, His Bride. He is always able to give towards life. In fact, Jesus IS life. We are united to life through Him, in Him, and because of Him.
John 14:6a ESV
Jesus said to him, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
When we consider that believers are the “female,” we see that we were formed to be life carrying vessels. We produce one egg a month on average to be fertilized. Hmmm… A couple thoughts that came to mind: God isn’t trying to overload or burnout His children. His desire is for us to thrive and grow, not be depleted and discouraged. Secondly, God sends us more than enough to ignite the small promise we carry. There is no shortage in God - we can all be carriers of abundant life. Also, as there are cycles to menstruation, when we feel we missed an opportunity to bear fruit, God gives us another opportunity, and another, and… (The opportunities may not all be the same, but God is patient and gracious towards us.)
So about those babies…
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Believers should all be producing the fruit of the Spirit in some measure. The more connected we are to our Source of Life, Jesus, the more abundant and healthier our fruit. In addition to this, we will be producing many other types of fruit. Occasionally, our fruit grows legs and walks as a ministry. Often it shows itself as a confidence in the Lord and humbleness before Him that serves, loves, encourages, reaches out, leads, provides, etc...
I’ve been told that my daughter looks a lot like me. Just like birthing a child who is part of the father and part of the mother, our fruit is also part of the Father and part of us. As our earthly offspring resembles us, so will our spiritual fruit. You will catch glimpses of the Father (or His Presence) and of yourself when you look at it. If you are quirky, creative, serious, mechanical, whatever, you will see that in your fruit. Don’t expect it to look like someone else’s. There may be similarities, but you are unique. Don’t compare.
I have two children. They are as different as night and day. I’m pretty sure they have secret meetings to figure out how to keep their interests and likes from overlapping. Your fruit may not all be the same. I have a friend who is in between “babies.” She is pregnant, waiting with anticipation to see what this next baby will be. Will it be another Bible study (she has taught many) or something different? As an earthly father’s contribution decides the baby’s gender, God chooses the specific “baby” (plans) fitting for each of us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
In Genesis chapter three we see that due to sin and its effects there would now be difficulty in bringing forth children. (BUT because of God’s grace we are still ABLE to have the gift of carrying life.) There is the unfortunate reality of fertility struggles and miscarriage.
My husband and I lost our first baby to a miscarriage. Those were hard days. I remember afterwards walking around the mall, and it seemed everyone I saw was pregnant. I didn’t scream out loud then and there, so I consider that a victory.
Unfortunately, some of you know exactly what that heartache is like. Others of you have gone through fertility treatments, testing, and numerous doctor appointments. “Bearing fruit” can be rather challenging sometimes, can’t it?!!
Is this true about you? You want your life to count for something. You want to be part of something bigger than yourself. You want people to see Jesus when they look at you. You want to produce something valuable. You want to show you are indeed God’s and that He is at work in you. I know what it’s like to want to hold something in my arms that resembles Jesus. And when this fruit doesn’t easily appear, we get frustrated and want to bring it forth ourselves.
We weren’t intended to reproduce apart from God. Yet, we try to sometimes. We try harder. Maybe we try different methods. We search out help and advice. We may even experience success in bearing “fruit,” but it’s difficult to maintain, feels lifeless, or doesn’t grow in a healthy manner. We see others producing fruit, even twins and triplets, when we are desperate just to be pregnant. We want to cry out, “Why them and not me?”
John 15:4-9 ESV
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
Our focus needs to be on intimacy with Jesus, not on trying harder. Reproduction is the fruit of intimacy and will naturally occur when we are walking closely with Him. We “birth” Christ’s fruit as we become more like Him and His life is replicated in us and through us.
I want to encourage you who are desperate to be fruitful. Relax. Enjoy your relationship with Jesus. Just like producing children with our spouse, there has to be time spent together - time alone when we allow Him into the innermost places of our heart and life. The fruit WILL come. The fruit isn’t the goal, it is the byproduct of an intimate relationship with our Lord. Know God wants you to bear much fruit because in it He is glorified.
If you aren’t seeing the fruit you are hoping for, consider: Have you become consumed with babies (Baby Fever!) and not your “husband.” Jesus needs to be our FIRST LOVE. Are you not walking as closely with Him as you like to think you are? Sometimes life causes us to drift away. Or are you in a time of preparation? There can be a training period before things are birthed. (I wrote 115 blog posts that 2-6 people on average read before becoming part of First Love.) God is gracious in that He wants to set us up for success as a “parent.”
When the fruit comes, God doesn’t intend for you to single parent this. He wants to be a hands-on, right by-your-side parent. Don’t exclude Him. (It’s His kid, too, you know.) He will help keep you from getting run over by the kids, living in a state of exhaustion and frustration. He wants to encourage you, give you wisdom, and support you. Abide in Him.
John 10:10b ESV
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.