Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Value of an Apple

Yesterday our oldest girl, Sophia ate an apple.  Before she took a bite she made it clear that she wanted to keep the seeds.  Her reasoning was that she wanted to plant an apple tree so that Mommy and Daddy would not have to go to the store anymore to buy apples.

I have bought and consumed hundreds of apples in my lifetime, but it occurs to me that I have been throwing away the most valuable part.  The fruit of an apple is delicious and healthy.  It is full of vitamins, sweet, and filling.  We even have a proverb about the value of healthy eating that uses an apple to make its point.  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Yet for all the goodness of the fruit, the most valuable part is in the core.  It is the seeds.  Each apple has the potential to plant several more apple trees each with the ability to produce hundreds of apples, yet this is the part that almost everyone considers to be garbage.

This morning, Sophia went outside to check on the two small cups of dirt in which we planted two of her seeds from her apple.  (One is for us and the other is for her Baba.)  She was very disappointed to find no trees sprouting up.  There was not even a hint of green in the fertile black dirt.  This morning she learned why most people throw away their seeds.  Growing an apple tree just takes too much time.  It does not seem to be worth it.

There are two spiritual lessons to be learned from Sophia’s experience with the apple seeds.

First, when we see people’s lives changed through the salvation Jesus gives us we rejoice.  We are filled with joy as we see one piece of fruit from the hard labors of so many.  What we often fail to do is see the potential in our fellow believers.  Each one is capable of going out and bringing hundreds more into a personal relationship with Jesus, yet we are content if they just show up at church 3 out of every 4 Sundays and sing a few songs.  We discard the best part of the fruit.

Second, we are impatient.  The few times we actually bother to plant the seed that we have been given, we are disappointed if we do not see immediate and drastic results.  Sophia did the right thing if she wanted more fruit.  She stuck the seeds in dirt, watered them, and put them in a place where there was sun.  Yet she was so disappointed when there was no sign of growth the next morning.  Some kids might give up at this point and assume that their project was a failure and a waste of resources.  Others might think that perhaps Sophia is a failure as an apple farmer as her efforts have produced nothing.  They might think, “This girl can’t grow fruit.”  They would be right.  None of us can really produce fruit in either a spiritual or physical sense.  Fruit comes from obedience to God, but God produces the fruit.  We can plant an apple seed and water it, but only God makes it grow.  In the same way we can tell people about salvation through Jesus, but only He can take that seed and make life out of it.  This often takes time.

Knowing my daughter, I assume she will stick with this project.  She will water the seeds and take care of them and repot them when they outgrow their cups, and eventually plant them in the yard.  Yet many of us give up on people when we do not see immediate results.  We make this mistake because we think that we are responsible for results.  Yet the results are not in our hands.  They are in God’s hands.  All we can do is be obedient to His commands to use the seed we have been given.

Are we using it?

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