For 5 years, Jordan has made the comment, “I want to get you something you have always wanted, but I want to wait until we have a house.” I am not a gifts oriented person whatsoever, but I have had a list in my head of all the things it could possibly be. A family name sign? A piece of jewelry with some sentimentality of a home? Maybe a new set of dishes? Nope. I was completely wrong. For 5 years, I have heard him talk this gift up like it was going to be an epic and amazing gift. People, he gave me a withering tree.
Before you start thinking of how his husband status has gone down a few notches, let me explain the back story. Jordan’s Nana was a gardener and had this enormous, 50 ft grapefruit tree in her backyard on the west side of Jacksonville, FL. He always talked about his memories of his grandfather picking grapefruit off and taking them to various people. He had eaten an orange and planted that tree with his Nana years ago. Jordan and I love fruit trees and always thought it would be neat to continue the tradition of planting them in our future backyard.
When we lived in Jacksonville, we planted a tangerine tree, and a kumquat tree in our backyard. The only thing I hated about both the citrus trees was that they had numerous amounts of small seeds. I told Jordan that one day I wanted a Japanese plum tree. Just like he had memories with this Nana’s grapefruit tree, I had memories with a Japanese plum tree. My grandparents used to own a home right off the St. John’s River. I would go there on the weekends and spend time with them and my great grandmother. My Pop had planted a Japanese plum tree right by the front door. I remember it having this sweet flavor and minimal amount of seeds. The squirrels and I would eat through a ton of those tiny plums and from then on, I was hooked.
We moved into our house and Jordan got on the hunt for this particular type of tree. He could not find it at any of the local nurseries or home improvement stores. He called every place he could think of within driving distance, but no luck. Meanwhile, he is telling me that I finally, FINALLY get this gift he has been wanting to get me for years. I seriously was thinking that it had to be equivalent to a diamond ring with the way he had brought it up so many times over the years.
The day arrived and a tall box came to our doorstep. He was so excited to give me this gift. We began opening up the box, only to find a Japanese Plum tree (a.k.a. Loquat Golden Nugget Tree), with three leaves attached and barely hanging on to life. Truly, I loved the thought that he had put into this gift, but I secretly was thinking he had given me a dying tree. Thanks? It was so bare and the little amount of leaves that it had were actually starting to brown a little. I don’t have a green thumb and I knew it would take a miracle for this thing to come back to life.
I went ahead and planted this decrepit tree and placed it on our deck for the sunlight. Over the next few months, this dying tree started to sprout new leaves! I couldn’t believe the growth! I was so thankful that this gift had not been a flop and I would finally be able to see this tree come to life. As it steadily grows, it has me thinking. This has to be how my life is with God right now. I am not talking about sprouting all these beautiful leaves, but maybe being steady in the course.
On Sunday we were talking about how complacency breeds apathy. I don’t know if it is because I have had so many life changes lately, but I have felt a complacency to spend time with God or to pray before Him. Then, I have also thought that it might simply be that I love all the blessings Jordan and I have had, and fear what God would change if I sought Him out. It sounds crazy right? To be continually going to church, listening to Christian music, talking about God, but at the same time doing just enough to get by? You see, if we all do just enough to get by with God, we basically are offering him a withering tree. It has roots, a small trunk and a few dying leaves with the potential to grow, but no source of nourishment.
Jesus says in John 15 that “I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” He wants us to give Him a thriving, healthy, fruitful life that glorifies Him, but I have settled for the withering tree. The thing is, we are really happy right now. We have been blessed with this home, Jordan’s job and this baby girl growing inside me. It is so easy to be complacent when things are going well. Then, BAM! A trial comes and our breath is taken out of us without a leg to stand on.
If Jesus truly is the vine and we are just an extension of Him, then why do we settle for giving Him the very least of our time? What you didn’t know was what Jesus said before that iconic verse, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The last scenario I would ever want is to be taken from His presence. Story after story in the old testament shows how God will walk away for a time until His people repent and turn back to Him. Though we have given God glory for all His blessings this year, I can’t say that I was personally seeking Him out through it all.
All I want is for God to have His way in my life, but it comes with such reverence. I reverently come to God because I know his power, but I also know His grace. He gives me grace for every activity I do in place of Him. I don’t want to be apathetic of things that He calls me to do. I don’t want to be offering Him the dying leaves. I want to be growing enough Him that I am constantly spouting new growth and constantly getting towards the goal of producing fruit. When I finally produce the fruit, I want to spread my light to others. Complacency may breed apathy, but it can also be covered it such grace. Thanks for the withering tree, Jordan. I mean it.