Biting into a crisp juicy apple is one of life’s joys I think. That is not to minimize any other type of fruit because I really like them all, but an apple can be so satisfying.
For all but about a year of my life I have been blessed to have apple trees not farther than six miles from where I live. The farm I grew up on had a variety of fruit trees including apples in the orchard that took up one corner of the farm. We also had a wonderful orchard six miles from us where we could also pick or buy apples to add to the variety we grew. That apple orchard is still about six miles away.
We are blessed in the United States to find a choice of apples in nearly any grocery store we enter. Most are polished and inviting and I have at times had one of those, but they cannot compare with the ones grown on our own trees or at the nearby orchard. Those are just picked or recently so and no one has polished them to make them more enticing.
I am fascinated by how many varieties there are of anything God created or spoke into existence. When I consider ALL that He created that I know little or nothing about, my mind begins to reel.
Take apple trees as an example. Did you know there are about 7,500 different kinds of apples in the world? Amazing!
When I go to my orchard I always go to the apple room where there are large wooden boxes filled with apples. Each wooden box contains a different variety of apple. I know I will usually find as many as 10 different varieties there from which to choose and signs let me know which ones are best for cooking, eating, or baking. In our area the greatest number of varieties will be found in early fall when most of the apples will be ripe and picked.
The smell in the apple room is a delight. The wooden boxes show off a variety of colors from the deep green of a Granny Smith apple to the deep red of a Crimson Crisp and everything in between. I can select a size of bag that fits what I want to buy and begin filling it with one or many different kinds of apples. Best of all, the signs in the apple room invite me to taste any apple I choose. (I never want to be in a hurry when I visit the orchard because I hope to sample more than one kind of apple while I am there!)
According to history the Romans brought apple trees to England and it was the colonists who came to the United States who brought them here. Legend has it that John Chapman, often known as Johnny Appleseed, was the one who started planting apple trees moving west across the United States.
The problem is that if you plant an apple seed, you can’t be sure of what kind of apple tree you may get due to the genetic make-up of the seed. That probably doesn’t surprise you when you consider the variety of genes that make up you that could have resulted in any number of alterations of who you are. Your family may all be tall and yet you are short because somewhere in the genes there was someone who wasn’t tall.
Because we started enjoying some apples more than others and wanted the same kind of trees to assure that kind of apple, trees were not planted by seed. Instead whatever kind of apple you wanted more of involved cutting a branch from that tree and grafting it onto another tree. That allowed you to predict the kind of apple you would get and allowed orchard growers to provide apples of every taste and use we might desire eventually. It also led to the development of an increasing number of varieties. This year a new variety was unveiled at my orchard and it is called Ever Crisp. It is delicious and one special thing about this variety is that it can be stored refrigerated for eight months.
I am the daughter of a farmer, but am not a farmer. Even so I cannot help but reflect on how apple trees point to the significance of being grafted for those of us who are Christians.
Paul talks about this in Romans 11: 11-31 where he references olive trees. He makes clear that you and I were the wild olive shoots and broken off and grafted into the nourishing root of the cultivated olive tree. Symbolically it is key to recall when Noah sent a dove out of the ark when the rains stopped. It finally returned with an olive leaf in its mouth. It was included in the riches of the land the spies sent out by Moses discovered. Israel has been called an olive tree as well.
Another perspective is to consider how Ruth was grafted into Israel when she refused to leave Naomi when they returned to Bethlehem and became a part of the lineage of Jesus. One might argue that Rahab was grafted in as well if we use that context.
Consider what grafting should demonstrate even though each of us may be different. We should resemble what we have been grafted into and a consistency across the body of believers should be evident. Perhaps the litmus test is how we love the Lord and love one another. If so, the graft will have taken and the world will never be the same.
G.K. Chesterton points to our purpose in his words below: