I have just moved into a new flat and in the garden there are two trees – an enormous pine tree and a small apple tree. It seems strange to me why anyone would plant such different trees in one garden but that is besides the point.
When I look at these two trees, my imagination seems to run away with itself. You see there are days when I feel like an apple tree wishing I was an evergreen pine tree. I long for my life to be unaffected by the changing seasons around me, I imagine what it must be like to be unmoved and unshaken by life’s seasons – like the pine tree which remains green even when the bitter frost comes.
You see life as an apple tree is beautiful in the spring and summertime, when there is new growth and the birth of visible fruit. Those times in life when you’re growing and learning new things; you’re changing for the better and it is obvious that God is at work in your life because there is visible fruit for all to see – fruit that nourishes those around you.
Yet spring and summer does not last forever and soon comes autumn and winter. The apples seem to have all gone and even though you don’t think you’ve done anything different to cause how you’re feeling, you still feel stagnant and lifeless. Although you are working just as hard as the previous seasons, there seems to be nothing visible to show for your efforts. Your leaves that were once a sign that you were flourishing are now facing the icy cold and begin to change colour and fall off. This change causes you to doubt yourself and doubt whether you can fulfil the purpose that you are called to accomplish. As all your foliage is stripped back, you are left a bare and fruitless apple tree among the evergreen pines.
It is as though I find myself wishing that it could always be spring and summer, forgetting the value of autumn and winter. I love the seasons when I can encourage and build people up, when I am simply blessed to be a blessing, when I can see visible fruit of the hard work I have put in and when I have a lot to offer. But God revealed something to me in Psalm 1:3 and through that revelation I have started to see the significance of autumn and winter.
There is a person that is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season… – Psalm 1:3
“Season”. A tree “which yields fruit in season”. You see even when a tree has not got any visible fruit, it does not mean it isn’t growing. Whilst nothing seems to be happening on the outside, the cold winter has brought about the opportunity for the tree to just simply take in all it needs through its roots from its source. Therefore in times when our ‘winters’ come and we seem to have little to nothing to offer, it is important to not make the conclusion that we are stagnant or far from God but use the opportunity to take in all that we need from him and be rooted and establish in love so that when the time comes we can once again bear fruit in season.
So today, as I write this blog looking out into the garden I feel sorry for that big old pine tree out there, evergreen but never being able to take time to gather up all it needs to be able to bear tangible fruit in season and be a source of nourishment to all that come into contact with it.
So here’s to being an apple tree.