At the back edge of my daughter’s yard there stood a gnarled, withered old apple tree. It has been gone for several years now. But God’s timing is always set for His purposes in our lives. That tree remained in her yard just long enough for His sweet lesson to be heard by my heart.
And now that my husband and I are actually living with that same daughter because of additional withering to our aging bodies, the lesson strikes a fresh chord for me.
When I spent time with her a few years ago, during heavy trials for both of us, I found myself drawn to this tree each morning. It was the aging of the fruit scattered on the ground and the withering of the leaves that felt familiar to me somehow.
Have you ever looked around at days that feel wasted? Fruit that has gone past its prime?
As I stood staring at the tree, and as I sat on the deck pondering the picture, I heard a whisper calling me to look differently. Where I first was taken with the gnarled branches, the still small voice within me spoke:
“Where you see only waste, I see abundance. Where you see only withering, I see a solid trunk that continues to stretch Heavenward.”
And a small Haiku offering came bubbling to the surface of my heart:
Antique Apple Tree
Gnarled trunk stretches
Carries on with life even
When age withers leaf.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
Nothing is ever wasted in God’s great Loving Timeline. He alone sets the days and the times for each of us, but as long as we have life there is fruit from the vine to be gained.
As I pondered those thoughts of waste or abundance, the word “mercy” took on new meaning for me. In the past I could only tumble grace and mercy together in one large pot. Granted, they do fit together, but I believe there is a depth of mercy that can only be felt as we acknowledge the utter brokenness of our being.
Looking at my own withering has brought me to my knees. When GRACE (infinite blessings I do not deserve) feels like a gift too far above me, MERCY (God withholding the punishment I deserve) is something that I can cry out for, that His GRACE might then flow freely from there.
I know that I don’t deserve anything, and yet our God’s compassions are stirred when I look up and cry out for mercy from Him:
He meets me in the broken places and pours His mercy there. And it’s there my limbs no longer gnarl inwards, unwilling to open up to Christ’s compassion for me. No, in God’s mercy flowing for me, my limbs stretch up anew towards my holy Father in trust, just like the old apple tree, longing for more.
My daughter and I shared in God’s mercies as we lifted the hard trials that we each bore up to Him. And He met us with the gift of a song that expressed so clearly the words of our hearts:
When I returned home from my daughter’s house, on that very next morning, His mercies were new for me there also:
It was the day after I had begun yet another RA medication, and I heard God call me outside to rest with my coffee. There beside me rose this fresh Morning Glory opening its glowing heart. As it lifted its radiant star next to me, more words burst from within:
Radiant life glows
New every morning with the
Mercies of my Lord.
Are you in a place that feels withered and wasted? Could you join in prayer today?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the gift of Your mercies. Thank You that You are not repelled by our brokenness, but that You are drawn by our cries for mercy. And so we do cry out: Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Have mercy on me.
We feel so withered in these aging and suffering bodies. Our weary hearts and souls are thirsty and hungry for your righteousness. We groan along with creation, awaiting our full redemption.
Will You pour over us Your new mercies, here today? Will You raise our drooping arms and turn our faces to look full into Your wonderful face? Will You fill us with Your new life as we wait here with You?
In the name of Jesus we pray,