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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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What apple trees taught me

What could possibly taste better on a sunny afternoon in the late fall than a cool, crisp apple that you’ve picked right off the tree?

As orchardists across our northern states finish harvesting this year’s apple crop, I think back to the orchard my family owned, 20 miles south of Columbus, Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachians.

When fragrant apple blossoms completely covered our trees in the spring, our honeybees “made a beeline” for them. As they gathered the sweet nectar from the flowers, coarse hairs on their hind legs picked up pollen, which they then carried to the next flower. Unless the bees had pollinated them in this way, the flowers would have produced little or no fruit. We also could gather hundreds of pounds of honey from the six hives that we kept at the edge of the trees.

Barbara Jurgensen and her son, Peter, pick apples in 1992 in the family's Honey Hill Orchard south of Columbus, Ohio.
Barbara Jurgensen and her son, Peter, pick apples in 1992 in the family's Honey Hill Orchard south of Columbus, Ohio.

The apple trees showed me that God seems to have a plan for things to work together for good.

The trees also taught me persistence. We had to spray them as many as 17 times during the growing season to protect the ripening fruit from insects, fungus and other predators.

And they taught me that we had to prune out a lot of excess wood for them to bear fruit abundantly, just as our Lord prunes our lives. Jesus said God removes every branch in us that bears no fruit. And that God prunes every branch that does bear fruit to make it bear even more fruit (John 15:2).

Sometimes I think that everything in this, our Father’s amazing world, has something to teach us — if we listen.


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