The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Drive-By Fruit Inspectors

on June 26, 2012

 It doesn’t happen very often, but I finally “lost it” the other day. I’d had my fill of something and went on a rant. (not mature – I know!)  Unfortunately my rant spilled over to my face book page. This again is not something I would normally do.  I can usually process something silently and move on.  I can usually keep my mouth, or fingers as the case my be, quiet. I’m not sure why I lost all self-control the other evening other than the fact that I’d had enough and needed some way, short of physical harm to another person, to express it.  I’m not proud of it but it happened and I’ve been pondering ever since what it was exactly that pushed me over the edge.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve plain flat had enough of “Drive-by Fruit Inspectors”.

 “For every tree is known by it’s own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.”  Luke 6:44

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”  Galatians 22 & 23

Many evangelical Christians know these verses well and use the term “fruit”  in reference to the visible things in your life that show you are walking with Christ.  I have no problem with that.  I too believe that if one is walking with Christ that there should be things in their lives – or “fruit” – that show it.  I should be able to have peace in the face of trials.  I should be kind to others even when they are unlovable.  I’m not implying that anyone should be perfect, but there are some things that should be evident in my life if I am a Christian.  The problem that I’ve run into lately, a lot,  is that many people tend to focus on what other people’s fruit trees are doing instead of tending to their own.  I understand this at some level. It is much easier to inspect other people’s fruit or judge other people’s lives.  In fact, it is much too easy to appoint yourself a “fruit inspector” for others.  This can be a problem  when you don’t know much about the tree that the fruit grows on.  It’s an even bigger issue when you are inspecting that tree’s fruit quickly and from a distance.  You become a Drive-by Fruit Inspector. (Or DbFI for short.)

I don’t know a lot about fruit trees. I live in Nebraska which isn’t known for its awesome fruit crops.  You want soybeans, corn and cows we’ve got you covered.  Fruit trees are a little harder in this area.  The climate here isn’t the best for trees. There are great apple orchards here but I can guarantee that you won’t drive by an orange grove.  Even the trees that can be grown here have to be nurtured a little differently than they would be in other areas.  My experience with fruit trees is limited to the trees my grandmother had on her farm and the few ornamental fruit trees we have in our yard.  I in no way consider myself an expert on raising fruit bearing trees. I know a few things about the trees with which I have had experience.  I would never go to an orchard owner and tell him what to do. I would never try to evaluate his trees. Similarly I in no way consider myself an expert on other people’s lives nor do I believe it is my job to evaluate them.

My grandma had a pear tree that sat right outside her dining room window.  She would watch every spring for the tree to start budding, a sure sign that the long Nebraska winter was over.  Usually.  You see this is Nebraska. Some years we are blissfully enjoying the season of spring when winter decides to come back and visit for a few days or weeks.  When that happens if your fruit tree is budding, or worse yet flowered,  you can expect that your fruit harvest is not going to be plentiful that year.  I can remember on the few years that happened to my grandmother’s pear tree she would say, “This is good for the tree.  We won’t have pears this year but the tree will get a year of rest and be stronger.”   She always looked forward to the pears that came off of that tree so on the rare years it didn’t produce fruit she was disappointed but she knew her pear tree would bear fruit again.  In fact the fruit the year following was usually better. It was sweeter and bigger because of the year the tree had off. 

I also remember helping my grandmother plant an apple tree. For the first couple years after the tree was planted she pulled the blooms off before they could turn to fruit.  The reason, she explained, was that a young tree needed to establish its roots and grow stronger. By taking off the fruit the tree only needed to focus its energy on doing one thing: growing.  If she let it produce fruit it wouldn’t grow as fast.  Makes sense when you think about it.  She wanted a strong tree and good fruit.  She got just that.  For years she  harvested the apples off that tree and turned them into all sorts of wonderful things.  We’ve often said that grandma would fight the worm for the piece of the salvageable apple so she could make applesauce.  She wasted nothing.  She also taught me a great lesson in the process: not everything that looks funny on the outside is bad and not everything that looks good on the outside is good.  You can have what looks like a lovely apple on the outside but when you cut into it there is a worm that has eaten most of it away.  Conversely you can have the funniest shaped apple you’ve ever seen but there is nothing wrong on the inside of it and it tastes great. 

All this makes me wonder about DbFI’s.   From a distance and not knowing too much about a the tree what would they think of my grandma’s pear or apple trees?  Not knowing that jack frost had nipped the fruit in the bud one year would they decide that the pear tree was no good because it wasn’t bearing fruit?   Would they look at her young apple tree, the one she had kept from producing in order to strengthen it, and declare it worthless? Would they look at the odd shape fruit from a distance and decide that there must be something wrong? People are kind of like trees aren’t they?  We go through seasons when the frost has gotten to us.  We go through times when we need to gain strength for the next season of our lives so God has pulled some blooms off to give us a chance to focus on growing.  Sometimes the things we do look odd or misshapen to others but are perfectly usable to God.  Those are the times that the DbFI’s in our churches and communities usually drive by, evaluate our lives and declare that something is wrong with us.

Unfortunately…..that’s what made me lose a few Fruit of the Spirit the other night. 


4 responses to “Drive-By Fruit Inspectors

  1. I love the wisdom of your grandmother, being able to see the blessing in a late frost, just beautiful! I’m now to Nebraska and learning to garden here has been interesting so far! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Emma says:

    Thanks for this post, it’s really interesting. I know nothing at all about trees, fruit, anything to do with crops, and I sometimes feel that stops me really appreciating the metaphors Jesus used. So thank you for posting this, I never knew that trees sometimes need to not produce fruit for a season, so that they can produce better fruit later. That gives me something to think about.
    God bless,

    • wedelmom says:

      Thank you Emma. I know very little about fruit trees but the few things my grandmother taught me about them have made me look at some of the parables and metaphors Jesus used a little differently than I might have otherwise. Honestly I never thought to apply some of her lessons from the farm until recently. That’s the great thing about growing: something new to learn every day!

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