Relationships through the tree

Part Four of Four: The Fruit

I love Shari’s apple pie. They make the best pies, bar none. I go there on as many Wednesdays as I can because it is free pie night with the purchase of any entree. The apple is my favorite fruit, although I can say much about blackberry cobbler for I know someone who makes the best. . .but that’s off-point and down a rabbit hole. (But you still make the best blackberry cobbler and you know who you are.) Anyway,

The apple has gotten a bad rap especially when discussing Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Actually, where this apple myth started, I really do not know because the Bible does not name the fruit as seen below. Man is the one that named the fruit.

However, the tree from which Adam ate and sinned was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This fits perfectly into our metaphor because the branches of our tree in question bear much fruit – good and evil. We basically make decisions to bear and eat from one of those two branches daily.

v16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
v17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. – [Genesis 2:16-17 KJV]

When Adam ate of this forbidden tree, physical life became terminal and man died spiritually and God separated man from Him, but no worries, redemption was in God’s plan. This is part number four of our four part series on relationships as told through a tree. Our metaphor says that if we are rooted in Christ, His strength is our strength, and we resolve that nothing will come between our relationships and marriages. Therefore, with Christ’s strength coupled with our resolve [1] the threefold cord becomes the trunk of our relationship tree.

However, life is a process and is nothing more than a span of allotted time where we make decisions, whether they are good or evil and this is life in a nutshell. Our decisions become the branches of our tree and as such, we are the products of our own decisions. Because of our free will [2], God will not intervene in that process [3], but if we commit our ways unto the Lord [4], He has a plan for each and every one of us [5], and our relationship/marriage will not easily break [6].

Throughout the top of our tree, there are many branches, all of which produce fruit. Some branches bear love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [7], while others bear anger, jealousy, fear, regret, unbelief, doubt, impatience, disgust, sadness, contention, shame, pride, blame, accusation, disobedience, condemnation, bitterness, and so many more.

Did you notice anything about the fruit of our tree? There are many more evil branches (and many more evil than listed), than good branches. However, when the wind of temptation blows, which is the inherent sin nature of man [8], growth, demands that, we have to climb out on many branches to find and choose God’s fruit [9].

Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit (God’s fruit), which again is, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, is all that we need because. . . against such there is no law [10]. In addition, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world [11].”

God made us in His image and as such we are spiritual beings and this natural existence is only temporary and temporal [12]. So, we want to bear the fruit of the Spirit (which is eternal) and not the fruit of the Serpent, which is the fruit of disobedience. We don’t just want to reach for the ‘sun and life’ as with the natural tree, but we want to reach for the ‘Son and life’ spiritually and eternally.

The fruit of which branches are you eating. . . and bearing? It’s your decision.

[1] Ecclesiastes 4:12
[2] Deuteronomy 30:19
[3] Proverbs 21:5; Isaiah 42:14; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 48:18; Matthew 22:37
[4] Psalms 37:5; Proverbs 16:3
[5] Jeremiah 29:11
[6] Ecclesiastes 4:12
[7] Galatians 5:22, 23
[8] Jeremiah 17:9
[9] Joshua 24:15
[10] Galatians 5:23b
[11] 1 John 4:4 KJV
[12] 2 Corinthians 4:18

Steal, kill, and destroy

I just recently returned from the surgeon’s appointment and the news was not good. He told me “There is nothing I can do for you.” Obviously, I was devastated. Just like my dad, I’d always been the bull, the strong one, and was very athletic. In all my life long scraps, I’d only lost to one man, a seasoned colored fighter in the ring. I was 15 and he was 17, but I was used to beating men 3-5 years my senior.

Anyway, after I’d knocked him across the ring and onto his back (to put it politely), it must have ticked him off because he got back up and preceded to TKO me. He was a better man than I was that night and I was OK with that. The only thing I was not OK with is he beat me in front of my dad. I was a very long time in getting over that. But this isn’t the point of my blog.

Like Monk used to say, “Here’s the thing. . .” Here I am 58 years later and I’ve concluded that the older you get, the more your parts start wearing out. A person knows that that day is coming but it’s still a shock when it begins to happen. However, age and my athleticism finally caught up with me in the form of arthritis – bad. It is throughout my entire body.

Due to a recent and severe fall, both of my knees are no good, which makes going down stairs very difficult. This is exacerbated by my arthritis. Because of a trip to the Bahamas and sunburn, I developed Venous Insufficiency coupled with Stasis Dermatitis. This is an issue where the veins have a problem sending blood back to the heart. (Bad circulation in the legs – bad circulation in the heart. Oops, flag!)

Now the biggy. Because of the VISD, I have P.A.T. (Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia), which is just an irregular heart beat and as long as I take my meds, I’m golden. Oh, did I forget to mention that my memory is fading quickly :-).

Now, I can’t even raise my right arm more than 5in in front of me AT ALL. I can’t even man up and go an inch extra daily. I have a high tolerance to pain and sometimes the pain puts me in the rafters and they’re telling me that there’s nothing they can do for me. Great!

Due to a lifting accident (and my age with NO shoulder muscle, which I also forgot to mention LOL), I severely tore my rotator cuff. Now I don’t mind losing to a better man than I am at any given time, but to lose to the enemy and life, that’s another thing. But this still isn’t the point of my blog. Thank you Jesus.

How many times have we grumbled before going to Christ first? As we open up to Christ, He will put His thoughts into our minds. We go through many stresses during our day and unless we make Jesus a part of our lives and daily conversations, even in the small things, it can turn to self-pity and rage. This opens the door for the enemy to come in and steal our joy.

v10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: [John 10:10a KJV]

Last night I watched a DVD that has prompted me to interject this extra blog. The title was “Me Before You.” The movie started with showing a virile young athletic man doing many things, skiing, surfing, and excelling in different sports. Then life put him on hold when a motorcycle hits him while he walked across the street. And here is the point of my blog.

Months later, a young woman needed a job and found a job as a caretaker. She arrived at the residence to find this young man in a wheel chair. Of course, they fall in love but he wants to commit suicide because of the emotional and physical pain he has to endure especially in loving her. What a frustrating time it must have been for him to kiss the woman he loved and not be able to fulfill that love for her, EVER. Not to be able to caress her, feel her close to him, and to consummate their feelings and love to each other. It must have been very painful for him.

I can’t fathom the idea of what this man went through as a paraplegic, being dead from the neck down and having to have someone totally take care of him 24/7/365: the washing, feeding, wiping, grooming, transporting, putting him to bed, and getting him up again. Taking care of his bathroom needs, and all the other things that we, as normal and fully functional human-beings, take for granted and can do. And here I was wrapped in self-pity worrying about whether I was even a man or not and if any woman would ever want me.

I can still walk, although not very good, I can still write (my passion and mandate from God), and I’m learning to do most everything with my left hand like comb my hair, brush my teeth, shave, and all the simple tasks that we take for granted. I’ve got my left hand and arm that I can fully use to lift my right arm for different tasks, like lifting my right hand across this paper to finish the end of this sentence. I can still dress myself, groom myself, drive, and many other things, although pulling on my socks and tying my shoes is painful. I can, and will, buy some slip-ons. Problem solved.

I am so-o-o sorry Lord for my grumbling and thank you for reminding me of the second stanza of John 10:10, which says, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.Lord, because of you, I have life and life more abundantly. It is well with my soul Father. Please forgive me. The enemy will NOT steal my joy. I am a good man, although limited, and worth having if anything by you Lord.

My heart goes out to those who can’t even do what I can do. To them, I can do allot. My Earthly father said once to me and I have never forgotten. He said, “No matter how bad-off you think you are, there is ALWAYS someone a little worse off.” My dad should have written a book on his wisdom.

Thank you Jesus for helping me to see this issue through a simple movie and I repent.

Relationships through the tree

Part Three of Four: The Branches

So far, we have learned from our tree metaphor that the roots of the tree is its stability, and that Christ is the roots and that stability of a relationship that helps the man and the woman grow and prosper. Furthermore, we learned that the trunk is the strength of the tree and our resolve in the relationship. Resolve says that nothing will come between the man and woman or separate us from the love of God.

The branches of the tree reach up toward the light of the sun and life. The only thing that will deter us from the love of God is the branches of anger, jealousy, fear, disgust, sadness, contempt shame, pride, and many others. Other things that will deter us are unresolved issues and sin that wave in the wind of temptation as they also try and reach up to the light of the Son and life.

v7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
v8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river. . . — Jeremiah 17:7, 8a,b

The wind has blown over many a tree leaving nothing standing but the cracked and split tower of the trunk. As with the tree, the wind of temptation has also blown over many a relationship leaving nothing but the trunk of cracked and split resolve.

When there is an unwillingness to root the relationship in Christ or fail to resolve that nothing will come between them or Christ, then the branches of sin makes man top heavy and the relationship will fall. When there is an unwillingness to change and grow, the wind of temptation will huff and puff and will blow our relationship down.

In two weeks, we will go over part four of our tree metaphor and learn of the fruit of the tree. Until then. . .