TOO OFTEN WE WANDER ABOUT, SEEKING PURPOSE IN LIFE. Once we feel we have discovered a fragment of that purpose, we attempt to fulfill it, put it to use, make our lives mean something. Scripture tells us, “They will know you by the fruit you bear.”
My mental eye immediately perceives an orange tree covered with juicy citrus, or a palm tree bearing delicious dates. Perhaps it is a small, low-to-the-ground strawberry plant covered with beautiful red berries. Many of us may not be purposed to be a “fruit tree” per se, but perhaps our purpose in life is to provide shade for the weary ones trying to find solace from the heat and adversity of life. I’d like to believe that is our “fruit.” A word of encouragement, a smile or hug does wonders for others. Not so easy to see how something so simple can actually be our purpose in life?
Strangely, today I envisioned a straight stick protruding out of the ground as I considered bearing fruit in life. That came just after a conversation with someone who said they have “all the answers.” I imagined a bare stick standing tall, proud—and alone. As the saying goes, “No man is an island unto himself.” We all need each other. Spread your vision. Realize this planet houses many who may not be the same type of tree or bush as we are, providing a different type of fruit in their region, but that does not lessen their importance. Even if it is to learn from sources of negativity or danger, we must not fail to acknowledge the potential lessons set before us in life, regardless of how they are presented to us. Right or wrong, they may become a teacher of sorts. Example? Surely society learned a plethora of lessons from Hitler, or Bin Laden, or Stalin—”How not to . . .” sorts of lessons? As sordid as it may sound, perhaps (PERHAPS) as negative as it might have been in the way it played out, even they had a purpose in life – to show us the ways not to follow.
And let us remember that not all of a plant is above ground. The most important part is the root system. Below ground, out of view, the health of the root system is most important for a plant or tree to thrive and remain alive. It amazes me how many stately old oak trees stand in my hometown. They are covered with lush green leaves on every branch. Suddenly and for seemingly no reason, one of those oaks will tumble over. It is only then we realize the root system was dying, and with that, it passed the death on to the rest of the tree. Everything looked fine until it fell. We have no idea the conditions of other indviduals’ root systems. They may appear to be the epitome of strength and confidence as we interact, but deep within, their spirit could easily be wounded or dying, still stumbling in the dark, trying to find their own purpose in life.
What fruit do we bear? Restraint, serenity, kindness, compassion, etc., or do we carry impatience, bias, bigotry and anger? Are we a bare straight stick in the ground, or do our branches provide a source of comfort and sanctuary for others? What we put forth will surely affect what is growing within, and vice versa.