Apple Trees & Faith
I think we all have a pretty good grasp on how plants grow right? The seed is planted, the roots start to grow, then the plant starts to sprout, and over the course of time it grows until it is mature enough to bear fruit. Pretty simple right? Well, I had a thought the other day… Plants go through a rebirth as well, and that rebirth runs alongside our own second birth as Christians.
Think about it.
Where did the seed come from? It came from fruit that was born from another tree. (Hence the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” remarks we often make about parents and their children.) That seed was born in the fruit of that parent tree. It started then. That was it’s first birth. The first birth of any seed comes when it grows as the fruit of the parent tree.
Now, when that seed leaves the parent tree and exits the fruit it was born in, it begins its own journey towards a second birth. Traveling towards being born again as its own plant, with its own roots, its own shoots, and its own fruits to grow and bear.
I love this quote by Cynthia Occelli. It describes what it looks like to watch a seed turn into a plant. The requirement of growth looks like total destruction. Complete undoneness. It makes absolutely NO SENSE to the outside world looking in.
Why would you come so completely undone and destroyed like that?
Why wouldn’t you just stay as you were as a seed?
As a seed you were cozy, comfortable, and (seemingly) complete. Like a seed, we have been born once in our own natural birth from our mothers. We have grown into a seed now and we are at a crossroads.
Do we decide to stay as we are, keeping what was created inside of us tucked neatly behind our hardened outer shell?
Or will we soften and submit to the call of the Holy Spirit and begin the process of our own second birth, that will look like our complete undoing?
Which would you choose? Because either path has its own perils and terrors. Do you stay the same and slowly rot away never becoming what you were created to become? Or do you submit to the complete destruction of who you are, be completely torn apart, and grow into who you were made to be? Just like that seed was created to grow into the plant it was created as and bear the fruit it was meant to bear, we too have a similar destiny in our lives as well.
When we first embrace this second birth it starts to look a lot like death. It would be much more comfortable to remain a seed, to stay in our tiny shell of a life and never endure the darkness of burial and total destruction that is required in order to grow.
How like us to desire comfort over the undoing that leads us to who God created us to be… To resist the growth, the pruning, and the weight of bearing the fruit God intended us to bear. It’s uncomfortable. Painful even. But what is about to happen is better than anything we could have ever imagined. (Ephesians 3:20 anyone?)
As we get dive into our new life with Christ our outer shell begins to soften… Slowly but surely as we are softened by the Spirit our insides begin to reveal themselves. Our true self begins to take root. Deeper and deeper the roots grow down, and as we grow and mature we start to show up above the darkness that we had spent most of our life buried in.
We start to emerge into the light and grow bigger and stronger. Sturdier. Until we start to resemble the Jesus who called us out of the dark into the light.
As we continue to grow a beautiful thing begins to happen, we start to bloom. We start to show off the beauty of who we were created to be by allowing our most precious insides to show outside. The fruits of the growth that we have been so painfully enduring since our second birth starting to show through. Those blooms begin to cause some heads to turn, they start to notice that we look different. They are noticing the signs of our new life, and not just mere life, but a beautiful, thriving, and growing life.
These signs of life and beauty are just the beginning, because after the flowers bloom the fruit begins to grow. The flowers are beautiful and eye catching, but after the blooms we begin the process of growing the true fruit that we were meant to bear all along. Those beautiful apple blossoms that called attention to our hard work and growth, well… They wither, die, and fall off. Where blossoms once adorned our branches, now fruit begins to grow. It takes so much energy and a huge amount of our resources to become strong enough and rooted enough to bear fruit. It has to be intentional.
We have to want to bear fruit. We have to go through the daily grind of staying rooted in the Word, being watered by the Holy Spirit, and pruned by our Heavenly Father when we start to grow branches that won’t bear our best fruit. We have to dig up the weeds that try to creep in and take root, poisoning our soul and hindering our growth. We have to make sure we spend time in the light, soaking up the Son and drinking the living water He provides.
How amazing is it though? The creator of the heavens, who placed every star perfectly in the sky, who tells the sea how far it can come, and keeps life on earth impeccably balanced… That very same God cares about you. He deeply cares about all of the pieces of your life. Every joy, every pain, every nook and cranny of your existence matters deeply to Him. And He will help you through this crazy, messy, undone business of becoming who He created you to be from the very beginning.