And it was not my idea.
Mark came home earlier in the week all excited about picking apples this weekend. I kinda laughed and informed him that Kroger had apples we could go "pick" out anytime we wanted. He just shook his head at me. He insisted we go, so we did.
And I am glad.
Check out the excitement on Caroline's face...and we had JUST started!
The apple orchard was started by a former WWII POW and his family still runs it. It was a beautiful orchard.
My kids were amazed at the ability to pick apples right off the trees...
And truth be told, Mark was just as excited as they were!
I had a great time too. In the midst of picking apples, and stepping around apples that were all over the ground, I was taught a lesson. Maybe not taught, maybe reinforced.
Our pastor has been on fire lately with his sermons. We are talking about being totally sold out to Jesus and the need for personal revival in today's society. Last week we were talking about how your actions should match your words and if you say you are a Christian, then you should act like it.
Of course, in the apple orchard, I could not help but go from actions to fruit. John 15:1-4 says,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
I started looking around at the apples on the ground...the ones that seemed to be wasted. My initial thought was that maybe they needed to be off the tree so the other apples could grow. But in fact that is not the case. They are on the ground, rotting, because the picker does not know how to pick correctly. That picker is me. I am not trained in picking apples. I did not know that if you lift and twist, instead of pulling the apple then you are saving next year's bud which is right behind this year's stem. Pulling can cause damage...and can cause extra, good fruit to fall and die.
Did you know that an apple tree bears the same amount of weight each year? I did not know that. That is why the farmer must prune the trees to remove the small buds, so the remaining buds produce larger apples.
The farmer must also know when the tree is ready to be picked. We are that tree--and God is our farmer. He prunes us--getting rid of some of those smaller buds to make way for bigger and more glorious results he wants to produce in us. The clipping away of those little things is sometimes the hardest for us. We tend to nurture those, shelter them, take special care of them and we don't want to lose them. Maybe they are self created talents...
...but God sees the bigger picture. He sees the potential on down the line and so He prunes. While the pruning process hurts-it is necessary or there would only be small, insignificant fruit to offer a lost and dying world.
When we walk close to Him and allow His hands to shape and nurture us, He rewards us.
Sometimes it is with the people he chooses to place in our lives...
...and sometimes it just with a blessing He wants to shower upon us!
But neither gift can be received without the proper pruning, growing and picking. If we stay close to our Farmer, make our roots deep in His rich soil, then the blessings and the fruit will overwhelm us!
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
John 15: 5-8