Hawkeye Seventh-day Adventist® Church

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Ps 27:1

The Fruit of the Tree is…

Some of the windows in my house get more of my attention than others. One is because I am in front of it more than some of the others. Another is part of my view of the world going by. Yes, I am a bit nosey and like to see who is out and about. Not that I usually know any more than if I had just heard something going by. People who live in the country are perhaps more in tune with who is out and about in their neighborhood and who of the neighbors seems busy on any particular day. My window gives me a clue about the weather, when early harvest starts, when the road is safe to travel in bad weather, when something bad happens in the neighborhood, etc. We had a neighbor who watched out his windows and he seemed to know what was happening in our family almost before we all did. On the day we called for an ambulance, he immediately had to know why there was an ambulance in our yard. It reminds me that God also knows what is happening in my life long before I understand what is happening! He has concerns for what is happening and guides and directs for things to happen that are for my good and His will whether I like it or not. He sees my day-to-day life with a window that is so much larger and clearer than the window I look from. And it is not because He has washed His window and I haven't. His window is so big and so clear that He can see everything that happens everywhere for everyone. 

Birds. Flowers. Flowering honeysuckle shrubs. Changing seasons. Changing skies. These can be seen outside my window every day. It tells me creation is alive, and I realize I often take it for granted as I watch the neighborhood from the window. I want to see creation through God's eyes. God speaks through nature. Have you ever seen your inner beauty through a Gerber Daisy? Have you heard God tell you the meaning of a fallen tree on your hike through the woods? Have you watched birds at a feeder searching for seed, and God opened your eyes to the spiritual experience and meaning? Sit on the porch, on the beach, at your favorite window seat, or wherever your comfort place is, and let God meet you and share his wonderful creations.

The window that lets me see the world also has a honeysuckle bush outside of it that tries to obstruct the view when it is summer. During the spring and late fall, a pair of cardinals like to spend time in it. The male cardinal comes close to the glass and peers into the room. He chirps and chirps and looks and looks. I am not sure what his plan is but maybe it is just to provide a moment of nature for me from the Creator of all nature. Whatever the reason, it does not make me upset. Instead, I am happy to have him at my window. He reminds me of my mother since the cardinal was her favorite. I am so glad that God gives us moments of happiness every day. Some appear before us and can't be missed. Others we have to stop and pay attention and discover what God provided for us. They are special gifts that we are grateful for--Thanksgiving blessings!

My other window gives me a view that has changed. It overlooks our small apple orchard though we have never called it our orchard. We just call them the apple trees. Those trees have been part of my life as far back as I can remember. They are just one row of trees plus two more on each side of the row. The first tree in the row was perhaps the oldest tree of the group. It is a tree that you can't shop for anymore as it doesn't appear in fruit tree catalogs. This tree used to have very nice apples and was a favorite of my mother when she made pies and caramel taffy apples. I thought it was a fun tree for climbing in when I was young and remember hanging upside down by my knees from one of the branches. That same branch now has grown too big for anyone to do that trick and has been too low to ride a mower under it. This tree has been in the process of dying for several years and has lost branches year by year. Every year we watched another large piece die and need to be cut off. This happened until it had become a grotesque deformed tree monster and not pretty. This year it had no fruit to pick and, nothing, no dried apple raisins for the birds to eat next spring.  

Another tree in that row has never given me an apple that I thought was worth having. Yes, I tried to find one to eat, I even picked up a few to see if I could salvage them for applesauce. Even when it was pruned and sprayed, still, there weren't good apples from it. So, with sadness, I gave my ok to have those two trees cut down and removed from the line. Now two empty holes are in the line of childhood tree memories. The view from my window has something missing and has changed once again--forever. It will never look the same again. There is the promise of replacements, but replacements will be small, different kinds and different shapes. It makes me a bit sad but hopeful too. Those two trees were serving no purpose for anyone. In fact, they caused distress to the ones mowing the lawn because of how they have grown. It was time for them to be removed. 

There is a story in the Bible of the fig tree that didn't produce figs. It too was doomed to be cut down until its life was pleaded for. I have pleaded for the life of these two trees in the past. But my request for their life to be saved still did not give us good fruit.  I also am reminded of the story of Abraham pleading for the salvation of a city. He was promised its salvation if just 10 good men could be found in the city. Sadly, the city did not have even 10 good men and was destroyed. It was time to remove a very wicked city. Just as it was time to remove two trees that were of no use anymore.  

I think that you will join me in this prayer –  

 Lord, may I always be useful to my family, my church, my community in some small way. Let me provide something good for someone. Father, forgive me for all those times when all I see is myself, when I allow the smallness of my problems to become ridiculously gigantic. So many people look out their windows and see a world without hope, a world torn apart by despair and devastated by hatred and injustice. Remind me that they would gladly change places with me, that they would readily swap views, eagerly exchanging their “struggle for survival” to have my “daily problems.” Teach me to be grateful. Teach me to walk in mercy. And teach me to be compassionate, to love with actions so that one day their view from their window might change to hope and love.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus stressed how important it is to produce good fruit, and to have a pure and repentant heart. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10, 7:19). The heart of our annison apple tree, which was cut down, was dead and rotten--no hope for regrowth. A fruit tree bearing bad fruit is useless. It is chopped down and used as firewood or in this case--carving wood. That is a terrifying metaphor for God’s judgment on people who don’t repent, who don’t subject themselves to Jesus, who don’t want their hearts to be cleansed by His forgiveness. People who repent, are forgiven and receive God's Spirit (Acts 2:38-39).  That becomes visible in their lives: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). That is good fruit indeed! What “fruit” do you bear? What kind of “tree” am I, are you? Should you and I be left standing, or should we be cut down?


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