Two years ago I planted a few dwarf apple trees in my yard. My wife loves to see them blossom in the spring and we both enjoy the coolness of the fall when the apples ripen and we are able to bite into a fresh, crisp, sweet or tart apple. Every time I bite into the first apple of the season it brings me back to childhood, picking apples at my grandparent’s small field of Northern Spys, or driving with my family to an apple orchard amidst the changing leaves.
The first year spring after planting my trees there seemed to be a good number of blossoms, but only five apples formed on one of the trees. Because of the dwarf size of the tree, as they began to ripen I would find one less apple each day on the tree as dear seemed to enjoy an evening snack of them. This year, there are nine apples (see picture). With no dear in sight we are looking forward to harvesting them in just a few days.
My last writing here spoke of fruit. I have been thinking further about fruit. I am sure that the fruit farms all around me would not be happy with nine apples on a tree. I myself look forward to more apples in the future, but it did get me thinking about our views of fruit and success in contrast to those of Jesus our Lord.
At the end of the Parable of the Sower, (Mark 4:1-9), Jesus says,
“Other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.’”
Elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus is angered by a fig tree with pretty leaves, but no fruit at all (Mark 11:13).
Jesus does not seem to be concerned with “how much fruit” as much as the reality of fruit. In consumeristic and money obsessed cultures we are taught that bigger is better, volume is profitable, and success is observed through producing more and more of whatever the product or service we offer. Jesus seems more concerned with fruit; recognizing that there will be differences in the numbers, volumes, and amounts in our lives. One is not necessarily more fruitful just because there is a larger crop.
Though Jesus cursed the fig tree for no fruit, Jesus would not curse my apple tree with 9 apples. Jesus rejoices with us in the fruitfulness of our lives in both character and in that which our life produces for the people and world around us. Take joy in the fruit of your life; be patient as you work toward greater fruitfulness, but never compare your fruit with others to determine success.
Blessings! It’s almost time for the harvest!