I heard a beautiful analogy in church the other day. We were watching a video by Pastor Rick Warren, and he was talking about focus. He shared how he loves to grow his own fruits and vegetables, and has a big, beautiful peach tree in his backyard. He described how the previous year, his peach tree was completely loaded with hundreds of peaches – each branch was heavy with the weight of countless little peaches. “You would think that many peaches would be a good thing, right?” he asked.
But then he went on to share how so many peaches on each branch is actually a bad thing. The energy of the branch has to be divided into growing each of those little peaches, and as a result of the growing power being spread so thin, the peaches don’t grow very large. In order to produce nice, large peaches, it is necessary to pluck about two thirds of all those baby peaches off the tree. The result is less peaches, but bigger fruit, because all the energy can go into growing plump, juicy fruit.
This speaks so beautifully to where I am in my life right now. I love all of the things filling my life, but everything starts to fall apart pretty quickly when I stretch myself too thin. I’ve been saying yes to a few too many exciting opportunities – all those beautiful baby peaches of new possibilities have been luring me in. Everything I’ve added to my plate is something great and worthy of my time, which is what makes it hard to turn down. It feels wrong to pick perfectly good little peaches and throw them away. What a waste!
But I’m reminded once again to pursue quality, not quantity. My family and our home are worth turning down some opportunities for. I want them to get my full focus, energy, and attention. I want to take care of the details so we can do this well. Ann Voskamp once wrote that you can have it all – you just can’t have it all at the same time. Our culture is obsessed with being busy, and doing it all, and yet when I pray about what to spend my time on, I feel God whispering to me, “You have the opportunity to say ‘no’.” I always connect “opportunity” with saying yes, but these days, I’m being led to think the opposite. As hard as it can be to say no, there’s a little spark of excitement and anticipation in me at the thought of taking things slow. We can’t rush the growing season, and I’m thinking it’s time to sit back and enjoy the long days of ripening fruit.
So I pull baby peaches of opportunities off my tree, and I trust with all my heart they aren’t wasted, because these sweet peaches of mine are worth the sacrifice. For every time I say ‘no’ to opportunities, I’m saying ‘yes’ to something else – yes to rest, yes to family, yes to slowing down, yes to noticing the little things, yes to more space and time with Jesus. The growing is good and the fruit is juicy!