We have an apple tree in our backyard.
It’s past its prime, but still produces apples every summer. Mostly it’s ignored. The only time I really think about it is in the fall when I’m mowing over the rotten apples as they slowly sink into the ground surrounded by crunchy leaves.
This year one apple remained on the branch long after fall had passed and winter settled in.
It’s still there, right now, at the beginning of April, months after everything else has fallen down. It’s rotting on the branch, ugly and black. But still hanging on for dear life. The girls have noticed it and so have I. Every once in a while someone will comment about it still being there. You can see it from the back door, and I often check on it while I’m waiting for the dog to come back from his restroom break.
I think about that rotten apple a lot. How it’s desperately clinging to something it needs to let go of. How it’s getting dead and rotten and nasty on the branch instead of just falling to the ground to begin the beautiful work of becoming soil and nutrients and fertilizer for the new spring grass I desperately want to grow.
I think that apple looks like a lot of us: unhealthy and clinging to the familiar even though everything around us is telling us the season has changed and we need to as well.
In college, I dated a guy for four years. We broke up often and fought all the time, but we were both too stubborn and immature to say this wasn’t working or healthy and it needed to end once and for all.
a time to search and a time to give up
It took a while to figure out how much we had damaged each other and to see, with clear eyes, just how much we had lost by clinging to something dead. I know everyone around us saw it, but we couldn’t. We were too close to the madness.
a time to plant and a time to uproot
When Chris went to rehab, he had to work through a lot of reality problems. I call them “reality problems” because his view was so skewed and off, he didn’t even realize what he was seeing wasn’t truth.
He thought his marriage was okay.
He thought his kids weren’t affected by his disconnect.
He thought his driving wasn’t impaired while drinking.
He thought his speech wasn’t slurred while hiding in the garage with his alcohol.
He thought his wife was happy.
The season had changed and he hadn’t kept up, clinging to an idea he had from years before when he wasn’t drinking and things were better. He couldn’t see that he had changed so he couldn’t see that everything else had as well.
a time to tear down and a time to build
A rotten apple clinging to the past at the expense of becoming something different and better.
There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Things end. They crumble. They die. They hurt.
Not everything created should last forever. I love Indiana sweet corn but part of what makes it so great is it is only available near the end of summer, for just a blip on the calendar. We have to wait patiently for the corn to grow and the sun to do it’s work before we get to experience the sweetness. There has to be rain and heat and rich soil. There has to be prep work and sweat before we get the reward.
It wouldn’t be as good or as memorable if we had it year round.
a time to plant and a time to uproot
In my mid-twenties, I realized a friendship that had been limping along for over a decade was unhealthy. I had passing thoughts before that she wasn’t good for me, but the final straw was when she refused to acknowledge I was pregnant with Ellie because she didn’t like that I waited so long to tell her. She pretended my baby didn’t exist. And then she moved back in town and I tried to act like it didn’t hurt.
But it did. And as Ellie got older, I realized that I didn’t want someone in my life who couldn’t, because of her own sin issues, want to celebrate this precious baby we had. Suddenly, I saw her with different eyes. I saw the way she allowed herself to wallow in sin while condemning others loudly. I saw how she only called me when she wanted to gossip or get information on someone. And so I spoke out in love on her pretending, she got mad, and that was the end of that.
I knew it would happen. It was time.
a time to be silent and a time to speak
Our world is saturated with catchy slogans to encourage us to live our best lives! to seize the day! and to remind us that we only live once! But so much of that goes against what God teaches us, that while there will be best days, days to seize, and once-in-a-lifetime moments, those are just for seasons. If there will be those days, there will also be the opposite of those days.
There will be horrible days, days we want to forget, and everyday moments that blend into the millions of other everyday moments.
We get both.
Both are necessary.
We have to fall, be destroyed, and then be rebuilt. Every season, every week, every day.
Sometimes we have to let the apple fall. It’s rotten anyway. Letting go is hard and scary and painful, but what comes next is just as sweet. He promises us that.
Joy of the Redeemed
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Isaiah 35: 1-2