Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Ugly Apple Tree Next Door

Our neighbour has the ugliest apple tree. And because the house next door is a rental property and the tree sits right near the property line and leans over our backyard patio, it has fallen on us to try to prune it from time to time to keep it from getting out of control. You see, it is not only ugly, but it grows like a weed. All of this would be pardonable if it at least grew decent apples. But it doesn't. The ugly tree produces lots of tiny, ugly apples. It is fruitful though.

The only decent thing that this tree is capable of producing is blossoms in the spring and for that I am prepared to forgive it of its many transgressions.

Last year we almost killed it off as we severely pruned it back. It had grown up next to the house and was scratching the siding, dropping leaves on the patio, and generally making a messy nuisance of itself. And so we went to work on it (with the permission of the landowner next door). Unfortunately, we were left with a tree that came out even uglier than before. I was afraid that we may have gone too far. Not that anyone would have grieved much over its demise, but I hated having such an ugly tree to look at every time I looked outside into the backyard. We had created a monster.

This week, the ugly apple tree has produced one of its most prolific crops of blossoms that I have ever seen. I can smell them through our bedroom and an explosion of pink blossoms greets me when I go out onto the patio. It seems that the worse we treat this ugly tree, the more beautiful it becomes in the spring.

Have you ever noticed that some people are like that? It is only because of hardship that their true beauty comes out? Suffering and persecution seem to produce a harvest of blossoms. In truth, the real beauty is already there and only becomes evident when suffering comes. Suffering reveals the real person within.

Jesus said that every branch that produces fruit, he prunes so that it will produce more fruit (John 15:2). He does not prune branches that do not produce fruit. In the same way, persecution and suffering does not produce faith or greater commitment to Christ as much as it shows whether faith is already there and then deepens it.

1 comment:

Glenn Penner said...

Update on the ugly apple tree. The neighbours cut it down today. Kinda sad actually.