Some of us Mennonite Girls Can Cook, with our husbands, enjoyed a very lovely dinner party last evening at Anneliese's lakeside cabin.
In the yard was a fruit tree that had been blown over by the forces of nature. There were signs of healthier former days -- wood slats nailed to the truck to allow climbing the tree's heights , worn remnants of a rope tied to sturdy branches from which children once swung.
The tree no longer stood tall and proud.
Although the first thing noticed about the tree was that it was lying on its side , a closer look revealed that it was still bearing fruit ! Apples hung in abundance from its branches.
It was a tree that invited the photographer's eye - it made for lovely staging for a photo shoot. The healthy, upright tree standing not far from it was hardly noticed.
The tree was a life picture.
Perhaps we once stood strong and tall, enjoying a wonderful life when forces beyond our control blew us over! It may have been the onset of an incurable disease, a handicap, a permanent disability, crippling circumstances we cannot change. Life never to be the same again .
Yet we have a choice, an opportunity. We can still bear fruit !
We think of people like Nick Vujicic born without arms or legs who has been such a life changing inspiration to those who meet him. Or Joni Earekson Tada who was 'blown down by a dive into a pool that crushed her body, paralysing it. Though she is confined to a wheelchair, she is a household name , bearing much fruit as an author and in-demand speaker. She bears much fruit.
We want to be with people like them, having our photos taken with them so we remember the way their story inspires us, the fruit of their lives becoming our comfort, our encouragement. We notice them, listening to their message in a way we never would if they were 'ordinary'.
Have you ever noted that when you read the stories of our bible heroes they bore 'fruit' through difficult life circumstances ?
One of my favourite characters, Joseph, suffered as a slave, was sold by his own brothers, imprisoned and cruelly treated when he was falsely accused - yet thousands of years later we are enthralled by his story. We love how he rose up BECAUSE of being 'blown down' and became ruler of Egypt second only to Pharaoh himself.
We could look at Hannah, or Ruth, or Moses, or King David - all of whom suffered circumstances of life that could have crushed them, but didn't ! Instead they became heroes of faith that drew others to stand in their shadow, learning from their example.
It is easy to despair, to lose hope, to feel crushed, to focus on the fact that we have been 'blown over' by life's circumstances we could not control. But perhaps we can be like Anneliese's apple tree, like our favourites heroes of faith, and let God 'use' our disability to be what draws people near to hear the message we have to give. Our disabilities need not hinder our God-given purpose.
The choice is ours - despair or carry on! If we are rooted in Jesus, His promise is that no matter what befalls us, our roots will hold. He will make a way for us to "bear much fruit". (John 15:8)
I love the passage in II Cor. 4:7-10 which says .....
"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed,
we are perplexed but not in despair,
persecuted but not forsaken,
struck down but not destroyed,
always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus
that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body !! "