Things look a lot different for all of us as we have entered this new season we are living today. Our schedules, our routines and our places have experienced significant change. We are missing the days of going to church, going to coffee, really just going anywhere.
In navigating these changes in my personal life, I went back to the psalms and decided to read a psalm every day. Psalm 1 is an amazing passage that refers to a tree that is planted by rivers of water. The tree gets what it needs from the place where it is planted and yields the fruit it was intended to yield as it grows in that place.
We know that this psalm is referring to being spiritually planted, digging our roots deep into the soil and soaking up the rivers of living water to keep us bearing spiritual fruit in its season, but it made me start to think.
What happens to a tree when for a season it is no longer physically planted where it used to be planted? What happens when a tree that usually bears fruit in one place is taken to another place, to another environment? Is it possible in this new season for the tree to thrive and bear fruit in that place? Is it possible to still bear fruit in that season?
Seems to me that this tree is a good picture of us. We are no longer physically planted where we used to be planted, our environment has changed. How can we thrive and still bear fruit in this season as we live in this unexpected turn of events?
For years I have wanted a lemon tree in my home. My plan was to keep it on the porch all summer and bring it into the kitchen in the winter. I envisioned planting it in a beautiful blue Tuscan pot that was painted with bright yellow lemons and beautiful green vines along the outside. My goal was to grow lemons. In season. And out.
Interesting how we expect a lemon tree to bear fruit under a new set of circumstances, maybe even under new restrictions. A blue painted pot in my kitchen is not its natural environment. Its roots are contained. Its access to the sun is limited and yet these trees are able to thrive.
In my quest to thrive in this season, I thought I would take some lessons from the lemon tree. Some simple gardening practices can help us today as we also have been relocated and restricted.
Establish a schedule:
Fruit bearing trees grow best when their watering schedule is the same every day. In their previous environment, these trees were watered by the rain. Their root systems were large enough to take water from the ground where they were planted and soak it in, but now, under the restrictions of a pot, their roots don’t have the ability to search for water on their own.
In this new place, consistency is key. The roots of indoor plants learn a rhythm giving them time to rest and take in necessary water. In this pattern, they stay at a healthy place enabling them to bear fruit.
In this season we find ourselves in, a consistent schedule in our time with the Lord is vital if we are going to continue to bear fruit. Being out of our routine can lead to a lazy lifestyle where we let go of the healthy habits we have established on a daily basis. Keeping our time with Him consistent on a day to day basis allows us to stay in rhythms of watering and rest, a necessary balance if we want to thrive.
Keep changing the pot:
In its natural environment, the lemon tree has no limits, no restrictions on how deep and wide its roots can grow. They have wide, strong roots systems that allow it to gather water in the hot dry locations where they are planted. The roots have the freedom to grow.
Bringing a lemon tree into the house restricts the roots that were created to grow. In order to maintain a healthy plant, the pot needs to be changed to grow with the root structure. Enlarging the space where its roots will thrive sets up an environment for a healthy foundation for the growing tree.
We need to keep changing it up, too. In a place where what we see around us stays the same all of the time, let’s take this time to explore a new Bible Study, expand our understanding of the Word, take a jump into a book of the Bible we have never explored before. Watch your roots start to branch out and when that happens, watch for new fruit to start to grow. You may just surprise yourself!
Take inventory of your leaves:
As is true of all fruit trees, lemon trees are susceptible to small insects who make their home on their leaves, damaging the budding fruit. In the tree’s natural environment, God has provided birds who eat these insects to protect the leaves. When potted and taken indoors, there are no natural predators to combat these insects and the under-side of leaves can be the perfect dark hiding place for unwanted mites and other insects. Those who own indoor lemon trees must take inventory of the leaves in order to stop an infestation of something that would damage the tree.
In this time set apart, we need to take inventory of our own leaves as well. Have we allowed small thoughts, intents, emotions that have no place in our lives to hide unnoticed? Are these pests coming out into the open as tension is high in these troubled times? Quite often times of trouble expose what is hidden. Let’s stay on the look-out for these hidden things and submit them to the Holy Spirit’s leading as we seek to thrive in this season.
Get new soil once in a while:
Lemon trees will do best when they are given brand new soil once in a while. Replacing old soil with new provides nutrients that the tree needs in order to bear fruit.
Perhaps in this new season where we find ourselves, we should be getting some new soil once in a while as well. A new way to journal as we talk to God, new space in our prayers in order to hear His voice. Perhaps a new translation of the Word of God that will open our eyes to new language that will speak to us in a new way.
Lemon trees can produce fruit, regardless of the season they are in, even if they have to be replanted for a short time in a new environment. But as crazy as it sounds, the benefits of bringing a lemon tree into a new environment is not all about the fruit.
Taking the plant that was meant to thrive in one place and putting it in another, actually benefits the new space where it was planted. The leaves of the displaced plant give off oxygen, a necessary element for life, especially in a new, challenging place. Stale indoor air becomes fresh as this plant is brought into a place it has not been before. Along with new fresh air, a pop of bright green leaves and yellow fruit add a pop of color to an often colorless space.
Repositioned plants brought into unexpected places actually benefit their new environment.
So can we.
Perhaps in our replanting, as God has allowed us to be removed from one environment and brought back home, we carry the ability to breathe fresh air into spaces that have become dry, routine and lifeless around us. Maybe this time of uncertainty in the world will bring color, certainty and life to relationships in our homes that we have let slide by as we hurry to get out of the house each day.
Perhaps we can bear fruit in hard seasons. In unlikely seasons. In this season.
A lesson from a tree planted in an unexpected place shows us the truth of the Word of God. Even when we find ourselves no longer physically ‘near a river’, let’s be those who like a tree planted by the river, still bringing forth fruit, trusting God every step of the way.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:3