Lessons from an Apple Tree

by Torrey H. Brinkley

This fall we were busy picking apples from two of the trees in our yard—many for sharing with friends and neighbors. It was our goal to get these apples off the trees before the first freeze came, as well as picking them before bugs and birds got to them. What good is a spoiled or wormy fruit anyway?

During all these times of visiting the apple trees and trying to find fruit that meet our criteria, some critical life lessons were brought to mind:

1) Isn't it remarkable how these apples all seemed to grow without any help at all from us humans? Our creator God has such a marvelous plan for all the elements of His creation—"Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made" (Rom. 1:20).

2) At first glance, when one looks at a tree full of apples, they all appear to be good and delightful for eating. But first appearances are not always accurate—"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7b).

3) To be sure, it is necessary to distinguish between good fruit and bad fruit. In the case of our trees, few apples were deformed but some were small. Many, however, had been attacked by insects and birds—"The worm will devour them like wool, but my righteousness will last forever" (Isa. 51:8).

4) Sometimes even a good apple will fall to the ground before we can pick it. The ground is littered with bad apples, but a few ripe unscathed apples lie softly in the grass—"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Ps. 55:22).

5) When we looked at all the hundreds of apples on one tree, we were overwhelmed. It would be a shame not to pick these apples that were useful for eating, baking, or cooking. Who would do it if we did not?—"When he saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were helpless. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few'" (Matt. 9:36-37).

6) When we have offered free home-grown apples to our friends, almost everyone is willing to take them home. Some show genuine gratitude. A few folk have said, "no thanks."—"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving" (1 Tim. 4:4).

7) We have brought into the house some apples that have perhaps one small blemish or a little hole from an insect. Then we have to do some surgery with a carving knife, to separate the good fruit from that which is spoiled. One can still make a great apple dessert with something that others might have discarded or thrown away!—"The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes" (Ps. 118:22).

8) No matter how many apples we picked from our golden delicious tree, it seemed like there were always more apples growing the next time we visited the tree—"I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:18-19).

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