The Beloved Tree- The Lord’s Message of Faith

It has been almost a year since I was prompted by the Lord to write “The Beloved Tree” and post it on my blog. I was unsure about writing it at first because I had never completed a fictional short story before. I reread and reread and believed that it was just right. A week ago, I read the story again (after many months), and I discovered something that has impacted me greatly: The story the Lord helped me write was a prophecy about my own life.

About three years ago, I graduated with a Master’s in Biblical Studies. I should have been confident to go out and find a job related to this degree. I even had my thesis in the process of being published (which eventually happened), but my old enemy stepped in: fear. I had never had a job outside of working at my parents’ coffee house. It wasn’t because I was a snob or spoiled, but I used my scholarship money to help me get through my undergraduate degree so that I could fully focus on my studies. So I had very little work experience, and even though the Lord was with me, I doubted myself. At different times of my life, I heard from fellow peers and professors, “You should teach.” But I was afraid. I was afraid to speak in front of people. I was afraid of not having all the answers. I was afraid that I would say or do the wrong thing. I eventually found odd jobs, that operated at all hours of the day, to make some money. I now have inventory, test scoring, coffee-making experience, and honestly, I’m grateful for it. Even though I swerved from my destined path, the Lord allowed me to meet people that would help me get back on it. I gained experience and confidence with different tasks, just not teaching…yet.

I finally got to the point when I knew my family was going to move, and I needed to make a change in my life. I needed to become the me God made me to be. I applied for a tutoring position for English Language Learners in a public school district, and even though I thought that the job slipped through my fingers, the Lord opened the door, and I stepped through (scared out of my mind!). It was tough at first, but I persisted and began to view myself as a teacher—almost. When the next school year came around, I felt that I needed to do more, be more challenged, so the Lord gave me an opportunity that I did not feel equipped for: working as the 6th Grade Exceptional Teacher at the district middle school. Middle school, behavior issues, lots of attitude, numerous parent meetings and writing Individual Education Plans—all the things I’ve said “No” to in the past. The Lord opened this door, I walked through…and I dreaded it afterwards. Up until three weeks ago, my attitude was usually pessimistic, tears were my “friends,” and I wanted to quit on a few occasions. I can say with certainty that the Lord was not pleased with me, not because I dreaded the job, but because I was dreading my life due to lack of faith. This was His intended lesson—a lesson of faith that I’ve only grasped a few times in my life and let it slip away. When I got sick with bronchitis three weeks ago, I was forced to slow down. I chose to do personal devotions (something that had been lacking), and I was amazed that the Holy Spirit pointed things out to me that I didn’t notice before. My passion for the Lord was returning. Then it happened. I finally wrote a poem (Faith Over Fear). That may seem small, but it had been SO LONG since I’ve written much of anything. Writing has always been my special way of conversing with the Lord. Then that night I prayed. In truth, I have a tendency to fall asleep when I pray in bed, but this time, it was raw and real. My passion was returning, as I often prayed it would. I could hear the Lord again, and this time tears were welcomed as they reflected the cleansing of my heart.

Since then, the Lord has given me love for those tough students that I couldn’t reach before. I have experienced such joy that it’s been so hard to contain. My life has been renewed! Now I have become a teacher. Become. My word for this year and the cry of my heart, to be on the path that God has carved out for me.

Last week I read the story the Lord had me write last year, as the third year since I graduated is approaching. I realized that not only was I (like the beloved tree) on the path of being cut off from God’s perfect will for me due to clinging to fear, but He also showed me the hope that overcoming fear would allow me to finally bear fruit for Him.

I can’t wait for what’s next!

_____________________________________________________________________________

The Beloved Tree- originally published 4/14/18

“Chop it down!” the landowner decidedly shouted as he stared at his beloved apple tree. If one didn’t know him, he might think the landowner to be cruel and unjust. In truth, those three words brought him immense agony. This was no ordinary tree. The landowner himself planted the seed that would become the fame of his orchard. He nurtured, fertilized, and pruned it when necessary. The fruit was incomparable to anything else his land produced. Beyond monetary value, it was the landowner’s pride and joy. From its seeds, his land was riddled with generations from his prized tree. But then one year the beloved tree bore no fruit. The landowner was puzzled and concerned. Was there a disease? An infestation? Surely it will produce next year, he thought. After three years, the tree remained barren, a skeletal centerpiece that had once outshone all the rest in his orchard.

The landowner’s son listened in anguish to his father’s cry. He was there when his father planted the seed; it seemed so small and insignificant. But he knew and believed in his father’s vision. “This tree will bear fruit that will last for generations,” he had declared. After years of careful preparation, the apple tree began to fulfill this vision. As the son reflected on these memories, he looked around at all the evidence around him. Trees resembling the beloved apple tree were flourishing as far as the eye could see. He loved each one, yet his soul was stirred for the one that had forgotten its purpose. With his heart still filled with hope, he ran with determination to his father.

“Wait! Don’t chop it down yet, Father!” the son cried as the ax was prepared to make its incurable mark.

“Son, I have waited for three years. Each year there has been no fruit. You cannot expect me to leave something that wishes to be barren in my orchard. It uses up the nutrients that my other trees should have.”

The son tenderly replied, “Your words are true and just. I only ask this of you. Let this tree stand one more year. I will take sole responsibility for its care. Just as you cared for it as a sapling, I will nurture, fertilize, and prune it. If it wishes to bear fruit, so be it. If it chooses to be barren, we will cut it down next year.”

The father looked at his son with all the love in his heart and declared, “So be it!”

Although it may sound strange to some, the son understood the soul of each tree; his life was connected to theirs. He knew that in the depths of this tree there was a will to fulfill its purpose. The son dug around the tree and filled the ground with the best fertilizer, and he cut off the dead branches where insects had decided to take up residence. The tree’s appearance changed as piles of dead limbs were hauled away for firewood, but the son didn’t mind the change. In fact, he welcomed it; all that was dead was gone. What remained brought him hope!

Then the son did something that, if anyone was watching, seemed a bit bizarre. He slowly climbed the tree, found the perfect sitting spot, and began speaking to it.

“Beloved apple tree, did you know that my father picked you out as a seed? Oh, indeed, he looked at other seeds, but you were the one who could fulfill his vision. When he looked at you in his hand, he didn’t just see one tree but generations that would bear fruit for him.”

The son climbed to the top to show the tree all its descendants. For the first time in years, the tree gave a slight rustle of its leaves, its way of speaking to the son. The son took this as a good sign and continued,

“It is not your time to stop producing, beloved tree. Why have you stopped? Where has your faithfulness gone? If you continue to remain dormant, we will have to get rid of you forever. Don’t you want to live?” The tree felt ashamed and stayed silent.

Every day for a year, the son nurtured the apple tree and reminded it of its purpose. While all the other trees flourished, the beloved apple tree still bore no fruit. The son was saddened by the tree’s choice. In three days, he and his father would have to chop it down.

The morning of that fateful day arrived, and a mighty gale arose. The wind howled and rain plastered the windows. No one spoke as the storm provided a fitting description of what they felt in their hearts. When the storm had passed, the father and son made their way to the beloved tree. The son himself grabbed the ax and just as he was about to swing, a ray of light sneaked between the blackened clouds. As his eyes rested upon the alighted view, the son began to jump for joy; for there, on the beloved tree, was a single apple—the first of many.

~~~

Inspired by Jesus’ parable in Luke 13:6-9:

“‘A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ ‘And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”  (NASB)

 

©Lauren Heiligenthal

 

 

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