Before you comment how gorgeous the tree is in my front yard, you need to know something. Ready? It’s only this beautiful about 14-17 days a year. Okay, 21 max. That’s 3 weeks at best. Yep, three. So for 49 other weeks, I’m dealing with what I call the “witchy” tree — that ‘thing’ in my front yard with gangly arms and long fingers just waiting to snatch some innocent child off their bike while they’re riding by on the sidewalk. Yeah, it’s about that scary-looking most of the time.
And I do mean ‘most’ of the time. Think about it — those blossoms are viewable a mere 21 days out of 365. And that’s a best-case scenario! That’s a puny 5% of the year. I mean, that tree isn’t even tithing on it’s beauty. Yet, it sits entrenched in my front yard soaking up water, soil, and sun so that for a minuscule amount of time it can bask in it’s short-lived elegance.
What’s worse, it drops these berry-like bullets that stain my driveway and litter the yard for far longer than 3 weeks. The lingering effects of this hauntingly overgrown set of branches is far more negative than positive. Yet, every year we gawk and gaze for a few short days at its beauty, enough to conjure up feelings that eventually prevent me cutting down this gloating, overgrown shrub.
Okay, so I’m a being a bit factitious. (Only a small bit my wife would contend.) But this morning, as I backed out of the drive way and headed west to work, rubbernecking at that tree which seemed to be laughing out loud at me, I was struck with this thought: I don’t want to be like that tree. (I know, I know…something’s wrong when I’m talking to trees.)
Seriously (but not too much), being “in season” for a mere 5% of the time is more than unattractive. It’s useless. Almost ugly. Definitely scary. Maybe not for that barky bundle of wood planted in my front lawn, but for me — and no doubt you — a few weeks of fruitfulness won’t cut it.
Yet, too often I settle for exactly that — something way short of what’s really expected and/or possible — and all the while assuming I should be applauded and awarded. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed a whole 12 minutes and thought I was bringing down revival. Or spent a whole hour-and-a half at church and thought that was a real sacrifice. Or gave an extra few dollars and considered myself generous. Or read an entire extra chapter in Numbers and thought to myself, “I’m digging in.” Really?
Those kinds of thoughts indicate I’m more like that witchy tree than a wise follower of Jesus. Yep, more like a dogwood than a disciple. Funny thing is, for trees, I think thats okay; that’s how they’re “wired.” But for believers indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, it’s not okay. It’s settling for far less than God ever intended, much less demanded (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). Instead, a life of lasting fruit and consistent beauty should captivate us — it’s what we’re called to — one that is known by “fruit”, “more fruit”, and “much fruit” (John 15:1-5). That’s the branch I want to be. That’s the life I want to live.
So give me the tree of Psalm 1, the branch of John 15, and the fruit of Galatians 5. Just don’t stick me with the one in my front yard.