The other day, the kids and I went for a drive to listen to Christmas music. Driving out in the country this time of year can feel a little dreary. The lush, green cornfields are now all brown, brittle, and full of dead husks. The trees are bare. The sky is gray. You can hear the cold wind blowing over the fields as you drive. We turned and passed more brown lifeless trees along more brown lifeless fields, when something caught my eye.
There, next to the road, stood a tall apple tree covered in what must have been two hundred bright yellow apples. The branches were sagging and buckling under the weight of the fruit. The apples were as big as baseballs, perfectly round, and a beautiful sunny yellow. The ground around the tree was bright yellow where ripe apples had fallen from their branches. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Ripe, juicy apples? In December?
I thought I might be crazy or seeing things, so I slowed the van down. I confirmed that yes, indeed, I was looking at an apple tree bursting and dripping with fruit in mid December. Against all of the brown and gray in the surrounding fields, it was a strikingly beautiful sight.
This apple tree was an encouraging reminder to me of the life Jesus calls us to live. He calls us to bear fruit, even when the land surrounding us is bleak, desolate, and unfruitful. The Christian is called to bear fruit in every season, and the fruit in our lives should look strikingly different to the world around us. Our lives should be a beacon and sign of life in a world that is dead and doesn’t know God. As we love and obey Him, we will see fruit in our lives:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that you joy may be made full.”
The Bible speaks of what this fruit looks like in our life. We should see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control growing within us. We should be fighting to replace anxiety with peace that surpasses understanding. We should be growing in love for Him, His Word, and the people He has surrounded us with.
When we know God and have His Spirit within us, we will be like that fruitful apple tree.
Fruit in A Fruitless Land
In Mark 11, Jesus is leaving the town of Bethany when He becomes hungry. Mark tells us:
“Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ And His disciples were listening.”
Jesus curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit. It was not the season for figs, yet Jesus expected fruit from this tree. Mid December is definitely not the season for apples in Ohio. Yet the tree I saw was dripping with apples. Through knowing, loving, and obeying God, His Spirit will help us produce godly fruit in our lives no matter the season. At times, this godly fruit may even seem miraculous:
I have seen women in my life grow in peace, joy, and trusting God despite the heartbreaking loss of a child.
I have seen women grow in patience and trusting God as they ask Him to bless them with a child.
I have seen women grow in peace and patience despite battling anxiety.
I have seen women grow in gentleness, faith, and patience as they pray for years for loved ones to come to know Christ.
These women (and so many more!) remind me of that yellow apple tree- bearing fruit in a bleak, lifeless land.
May we, like that yellow apple tree, bear good, abundant fruit no matter the season of life.