In early spring of 2015, our family embarked on an extensive landscaping project in our backyard which we managed to accomplish all on our own, creating four beds along the back fence to minimize the amount of grass that we would need to upkeep. After many man-hours of preparing these landscape beds, I was looking forward to adding all sorts of flowers, bushes, and trees to fill two of the four large beds while planting zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in the other two beds.
In my mind, I had an ambitious plan of what I intended to do.
My treasured purchase was this apple tree. What grand expectations I had for this tree! My mission was to help this tree grow to its glorious, fruit-bearing potential.
I imagined the crisp, tasty apples that would make cobbler, apple pies, apple cinnamon bread, applesauce and all the other wonderful treats that would come from that tree once it matured enough to grow fruit. Oh yum! I didn’t mind the wait.
During one such storm, hail pelted our neighborhood with enough pellets that it accumulated like bright white snow on yards, roofs, and streets. Many homes had damage to their roofs and landscaping. Several cars had dents and cracked windshields.
The following morning, I checked on the backyard landscaping and observed that the apple tree didn’t fare well through the storm. There were gashes and pit marks on the trunk and branches where the hail had whipped it unmercifully.
As late spring turned into a blazing hot Texas summer, I would regularly water the tree but noticed that it never returned to the healthy stature it had when first planted. Even with faithful watering, by September the leaves had turned brown and brittle — that sign which means the tree didn’t survive.
In the new year, I planted a few more hearty Texas flowers and my landscaping project continued to progress quite well. However, when it came to planting fruit trees, I realized that I had a lot more to learn.
The Case of the Apple Tree Casualty was a lesson that I should have done some research before choosing this particular fruit tree.
. . . I needed a deeper hole when planting that would allow a deeper root system.
. . . I should have watered more thoroughly and added fertilizer directly after planting to help build a stronger root system.
. . . I learned that apple trees need another tree in close proximity in order to cross-pollinate and produce fruit.
. . . I needed to cover the cover the young tree in the hailstorm because it was too fragile to endure the hard pelting.
As the dead apple tree was dug up and removed from the garden, the Lord brought to mind a life lesson to be learned with good gardening.
How often have I gone forward with my own designs and with my own (and often limited) knowledge of what I thought was best? How did I respond when an unexpected storm arose for which I was in no way prepared?
Planting my own plans in life in my own wisdom gives me excitement and motivation. Yet, it often times results with storms of trouble that shake me from the securities that I thought were rooted firmly. And again, I realize that I neglected to spend time with the Master Gardener to discover what His gardening plans are best.
But Jesus is so faithful; even when I am pelted and tattered, He pulls me back to Him and directs me in the path I should take. No doubt a little slower, a little more deliberate.
If you are struggling in a storm right now, unsure or discouraged, allow Jesus to be your Master Gardener!
- Water your day with prayer in order to build a stronger relationship with Him,
- Dig a deeper root system by reading and studying the Bible regularly so you know what He has to say to you, and
- Spend time with other believers to produce relationships that will get you through tough times.