31 October 2011

When does the apple ripen?

Since Grace was very young, we have tried to make an annual trip to the orchard to pick apples.  My favorite orchard was somewhere outside of Iowa City, Iowa though the name escapes me.  There were row upon row of well groomed trees, a knowledgeable old man with a tractor, and an ancient German shorthair named Hawkeye.  One of the first lessons learned from picking apples is that there are dozens of varieties of apples at each orchard with different tastes and textures.  What you also learn is that the fruits ripen at different times and that different trees yield different amounts of fruit.  Some trees bear fruit in August whereas others wait until October.  Some trees bear bushels of fruit, some not as much.  Those who live with the trees year after year, like the old tractor driver, also know that in some seasons, some trees just don't bear as much fruit.

Apple trees provide important lessons for us as Christians.  Many of us believe that the moment we are saved, we will be suddenly and radically transformed.  In a sense we are, but perhaps not in the way we think.  Our fruit bearing may not be as quick or abundant as we would hope.  We want bushels of fruit from season one until we come to glory.  But what does the parable of the sower say?

As it is described in Luke, it says "As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience."  Patience can also be translated perseverance.  Our fruit takes time to grow.  In fact, often when it springs up quickly, it burns out (Luke 8:13).

As Mark describes the parable, he reminds us that  "other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold" (Mark 4:8). In other words, not every tree bears fruit in the same measure.  We must be careful when we look at the fruit of others, or ourselves, assuming we are not bearing enough.

We have a patient vinedresser who loves us and is patient with us.  If we abide in Him (John 15), at the proper time he will cause the right amount of fruit to grow on each tree.

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