Faith as an … orange tree?


The Lord said that if we had faith as a mustard seed, we could move mountains… right now, I feel like my faith is a lot more like this little orange tree.

Yes.  There’s an orange tree in that picture.   She’s only about 3 feet tall, and her trunk is maybe an inch in diameter.  You’re saying, but Hearth – no worries, I’m sure she’s a new tree.  She’s not.  She’s been there for three or four years now.  My husband keeps threatening to take her out… but I figure, as much damage as she’s taken without going down, we should respect the orange tree.  At least until we decide to put something else there!

What challenges does that orange tree face?

First of all, the tree isn’t planted in the best dirt.  It might be planted in the best dirt we have, but that ain’t sayin’ much, as our yard is nearly pure clay.  Trees don’t like clay soil, if you didn’t know.  (We have other citrus in heavy clay – and this is pretty much what they do.  Grow very, very slowly – pushing your roots into clay is hard work).

Second, we didn’t water it much the last couple of years.  Drip irrigation, just the minimum.  She lived.  That’s all I can say.  And the dog keeps digging up and eating the fertilizer I use… so I haven’t, much.

Third, we keep throwing things on her.  Literally.  Well, I mean we don’t TRY to throw stuff on her – but the reason you can’t tell which bits of green are the orange tree and which bits are ??? is because she’s in front of a HUGE pile of pepper tree wood.  Oh, did I mention that pepper trees kill the things that live under them?  The orange tree isn’t under the pepper tree, but it’s certainly had enough pepper leaves on it, enough branches chucked on it temporarily, that if it were truly a temperamental thing, it would be dead by now.

The tree lives.

And I wonder if it’s not like that fig tree from the parables, the one the owner wanted to cut down, but the vinedresser said, “let me just give it one more chance …”.  Maybe my little orange tree just wants to NOT have branches dropped on it, would maybe like some regular water and food, and just a little bit more time.

I feel like this.  My faith has gotten a bit battered this last year.  No, not my faith in God, but my cheery faith that everything is going to work out.   My faith in the little promises I pick up along the way.   You know, when you pray about something, you get the peace, or the go-ahead, or whatever… you get your ducks lined up, everything is in order.   You’ve worked it out on paper (in flesh) and you’ve worked it out on your knees (in the Spirit).  And then… it doesn’t work out.   Even wrigglier, when it’s just been worked out on your knees, but over and over and over again… like that.

I mean, no reason a tree should grow in our awful soil.  They do, and I know they do.  But – on paper, it looks dire sometimes.

But I’ve been encouraged lately.   From others, not from my own crazy self.

I’m looking forward to growing my faith as “suddenly” as the little lemon tree outside my front window, which now reaches to the top of the house… the lemon tree that everyone comments on, because it’s so beautiful.   One day it was this tiny little tree, then the next it seemed… how did it get so big??

I want a faith that’s deep rooted, that can’t be shaken.

And so I’m okay with a slow start to crazy faith.  I’m okay with branches getting dropped on my head.  I’m not saying that I like it, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.

The sun is coming through the clouds of this stormy season, and I just can’t WAIT to start growing…

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