...a safe place to pursue a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

of trees and their fruit

tree

I somewhat recently moved into a new place with several trees on the property. Because I like to get a sense of the big picture by processing every minute detail, I wanted to know everything about all those trees. Jesus said that you would know a tree by its fruit, but these trees did not have any fruit. It was early spring; they didn’t even have leaves yet.

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I once spent about a year arguing with a counselor about how belief and thought and action play out in our lives. (Here we’re not speaking of religious doctrine but things like what I believe about myself, about others, about life, etc.) Her assertion was that our true held beliefs pilot our thoughts in any given situation and thus come out in our actions. What I was arguing doesn’t matter; however, years later, through completely separate life experiences, I came to agree with her. I wish I could claim that at the time I didn’t really understand what she was saying. The truth is that I had decided what stance I was going to hold in the argument, and I held that stance at all costs – especially at the cost of listening.

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I have a friend who is getting a degree in plant science, so I asked him to help me identify my leafless, fruitless trees. We went around the yard discussing each tree, their condition, and tree care in general. There was a particular tree in the middle of the back yard that he identified as a wild plum. I was immediately very excited about this and started making plans for all my many plums.

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While I grew up in a Christian culture, memorized scripture, and attended church gatherings any time the doors were open, it was not until well into my adult years that I began to live in a world of grace. For me this was a revolutionary moment. In that moment literally how I viewed everything changed.

Grace became real!

In the years since, each time I have tried to relay the experience to someone it falls so short. Perhaps I am bad at communication. Perhaps communication is inherently limited. But I’ve come to a place of believing that the moments we are blessed with experiencing life at its richest cannot be captured and cannot be conveyed. The fullest of life is to be experienced.

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As my plum tree began to leaf out and then produce fruit, I would check in on its progress almost daily—taking particular interest in the development of the fruit. As the fruit increased in size I enjoyed watching how the shape would change ever so slightly, and I imagined how it would continue to do so in order to become a full beautiful, ripe plum.

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A few years ago I made the decision to adopt a pup-dog that had been rescued from a very abusive situation. From the day I first opened the cage door and waited for Willow to stop cowering in the corner and come out to let me love her, I entered a very rewarding journey filled with rich lessons of communion. Working with an animal that does not have a single reason to trust a human teaches you that all that matters are your actions and every action matters.

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It was early to mid-June that I started to wonder how the fruit I was looking at could ever become a plum. From fear of missing out on the ripe fruit, I did not want to pick even one for closer examination. But one day I finally did. I took it into my kitchen and looked it over carefully. I then took a knife and sliced the tiny fruit in half. Expecting to find the center occupied by a single pit, I sliced accordingly. However, the knife found its way through the center of the fruit without the struggle of having to slice around the expected pit. And as I looked down at the two halves, I could not deny I was looking at a grape-sized apple. I then looked out my kitchen window to behold for the first time my crabapple tree.

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I have been quite ill most of this week with periods of feeling almost okay. Interesting things happen when you are not well. Don’t worry; there are only two I wish to note here. The first is that your priorities are so violently shifted that you are reminded of the pliability of much that you once felt was certain. The second is that your mind churns like you’re a lunatic, and every once in a while it aligns on a thought that is simple yet brilliant. When the fever and medicine have past, this simple but brilliant thought may be neither of these, but in that moment it is fully who you are, and it is the only fruit you have to give – whether it be plum or crabapple – whether it is received as crabapple or plum.