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A Tale of Two Trees

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A Tale of Two Trees

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The flavor of a peach plucked straight from a branch explodes across your tongue with intensity that can never be matched by one plucked from a box. Comparing a tree-ripened peach to a store-bought one is like comparing a July 4th fireworks finale to a single firecracker. When my wife and I bought our home, I purchased two spindly dwarf Red Haven peach saplings and planted them in the backyard. Over the years, those two trees have produced wonderful peaches that ripened to perfection early in July. They are now old, misshapen and leaning. Their bark is rough and splitting, and I don't know how much longer they will live. To ensure that I can continue to enjoy tree-ripened peaches, I bought two new saplings. The planting instructions said to remove the plastic bag but leave the burlap bag and soil around the roots. After removing the plastic from the first sapling, I lifted the tree and the burlap bag disintegrated. All the soil it had contained stayed on the ground and I was holding a tree with bare roots exposed to the air. I did the best job I could to plant the bare roots and fill around the roots with soil from the bag, but I doubted this tree would survive. I was more careful with the second sapling and successfully planted it intact. Neither sapling had budded when I bought them. They remained lifeless as my two old friends budded out and bloomed. The saplings still showed no signs of life when a March freeze destroyed the year's crop from the old trees. When May arrived, the old trees were fruitless but had full-grown leaves. The saplings remained dry skeletons rattling in the wind. I even considered digging them up and returning them for a full refund. Then, on Mother's Day, small green buds sprouted from the bark of the first sapling I had planted! The tree I thought would never live sprouted leaves! The other tree, however, still showed no signs of life, even though I was more careful in planting it. How like people they are! Remember that we are called as the weak of the world, yet we'll put to shame the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, New Century Version throughout). I am not in a hurry to dig up the new saplings, and I'm glad I waited long enough for one to produce leaves. I really wanted both to live and produce. Take a lesson from the parable of the useless tree: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for some fruit on the tree, but he found none. So the man said to his gardener, 'I have been looking for fruit on this tree for three years, but I never find any. Cut it down. Why should it waste the ground?' But the servant answered, 'Master, let the tree have one more year to produce fruit. Let me dig up the dirt around it and put on some fertilizer. If the tree produces fruit next year, good. But if not, you can cut it down'" (Luke 13:6-9). In like manner, God is patient with us. "He does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives" (2 Peter 3:9). God really wants all of us to be in His Kingdom! But there are limits to His patience. If we don't produce spiritual fruit, we'll be cast off like a dead peach tree! We Christians have a duty to produce fruit. Jesus Christ tells us, "I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit" (John 15:1-2). Are we overcoming and producing the fruit God seeks in us? If we show no signs of spiritual life, God won't wait forever. But if we show signs of progress, God will be patient with us! UN