Tree Tending

"Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit."  John 15:2

I love trees.

There are so many varieties.  Pines of every sort are hard to resist.  It is their fragrance that draws me in.  Then, it is their sound in the wind that captures me and holds me still.  

Trees tend to anchor my memory.

The unique fragrance of the fig tree will forever remind me of times with my Grandma Tis in Van Nuys, California.  Italian cypress trees and redwoods remind me of California, too.

Oaks and pines remind me of all the reasons I love Texas.  And, they take me back to days when my only care was finding just the right pine cone or acorn for a school art project.

I can remember picking peaches, lemons, and kumquats from the respective trees with my mother as a girl, and all the while she taught me about the fruit.  Thinking back, I never really understood or appreciated what a huge storehouse, what a wealth of information she was imparting to me.  And it remains.

It was my brother who gave me a boost into the first tree I climbed.  There would be many more.  I felt so big in that tree, each tree, each time.

It was the tree in the backyard of our current house that drew us to the place more than fifteen years ago--an old ash tree.  It was full of birds, squirrels, opossums, and more.  

But, it was this same tree that fell with a great crash just three weeks ago.  Once felled, it was clear to see the disease that had taken hold inside and went all the way to the root.  For years the wildlife had romped on this tree, lived in this tree.  How could the disease have gone unnoticed?

Thinking back, there were signs of the tree's condition:  large limbs falling off, one side that wasn't growing quite like the other.  There was never fruit of any kind.  And, it hadn't been pruned properly the last few years.  Though, none of us expected it to fall with such a great crash.

No one ever does.

People can be a lot like trees, as Jesus tells us throughout scripture.  They can be like our ash tree.  They can look good on the outside--like everything is just fine.  They can even fool a lot of the people around them, too, with all the right friends and trappings.  But, inside they can be rotten to the core.  And when they fall, often unexpected, the echo can be heard for miles.

Have you ever known anyone like that?

Jesus didn't mess around when comparing us to trees.

In Matthew 3:10, He tells us, "Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

And in Matthew 7:18-20, He admonishes us, "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."

But there is hope!  God, who is able to do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), loves us enough to prune us, and He will do so, if we will receive Him (Colossians 2:6-7), and remain in Him (John 15:4).

Have you tended your tree today?

There is no greater meaning, no greater joy in all the world than a life lived in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Receive Him.  Remain in Him.

Goodnight, Runners.


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