Today I realize my garden has become a jungle of lush green leaves. The blackberry stalks present the healthiest looking leaves you've ever seen.
One would think this was beautiful, productive, and right.
But look closely: no fruit.
I learn that perhaps the nitrogen levels in my soil are too high. Too much nitrogen creates this curious and astounding reality: all leaf and no fruit. What looks like health isn't health at all.
It's all a show. Big hat, no cattle. All tracks, no train. All leaves, no fruit.
Some gardeners and farmers deliberately plant nitrogen absorbing plants (like broccoli or squash) right next to their fruit plants. Something must sit there and redirect the excess. Something must come alongside and rebalance what there's just too much of.
I think of my broccoli and squash kinds of friends who sit beside me and rebalance, redirect, and reorient. They point out excesses of pride, self-importance, false humility, or overconsumption.
I'm acutely away of areas of our lives that seem like health--performance, outward display, productivity, or effectiveness--but really, it's not always been real fruit. It's an unbalanced look of well-being that fools you with its lush, showy exterior.
Take caution: Every lush, rich thing that looks like health often isn't at all. The real test is the fruit of good character, worship, helping others grow, and service that's often as hidden as the berries that grow deep within a balanced, carefully tended vine.