It's the root, not the fruit

It's the root, not the fruit

I love a good apple. Not only do they taste great by themselves, but you can make even more amazing things with them. Applesauce, apple butter, baked apples, apple crisp and my favorite – apple pie! I live in the PNW (Pacific Northwest if you don’t know our code), and one of the things we’re known for is apples. Apples and rain. Probably more rain than apples. Not too far from where I live is a place called Hood River, a town which contains one of our families favorite activities, the fruit loop. No, it’s not a tour of a sugar based, tooth rotting company. It’s a tour of a bunch of orchards and wineries scattered around the north side of Mt. Hood.

One of my favorite things about this trip is when we stop at Kiyokawa’s. It’s up at about 2,000′ in elevation, and they have the best and biggest apples. Of course they have every variety you could imagine, but my favorite are the Honeycrisp. They’re not like the little tennis ball sized ones you get in the grocery store. They don’t taste the same either. They are big, sweet and juicy. Often so big you may not be able to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

They. are. amazing.

We’ve got some fruit trees of our own. Some of them have been around for a long time. Most of them I just planted last year. We don’t have the same kind of fruit as they have at Kiyokawa’s. Maybe some day.

For our young trees, last year was all about keeping them alive and establishing their roots. This winter has been about trying to figure out a way to keep the elk from eating all of last years’ growth, but that’s a different illustration. Hopefully, this coming year, we’ll see the trees take off.

But, it’s going to be a while before we have any fruit.

We live in a “have it now have it your way” world. We want our apple trees to produce fruit the first year. We set a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get frustrated if we haven’t lost 10 pounds by the end of the first week. We want the best paying job right out of college. We want what we want and we want it now. We’re Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate factory. We want a goose that lays golden eggs for Easter and we want it now.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that we don’t build the supporting structure necessary to sustain any kind of long term growth. We may be able to push ourselves to lose the weight quickly, but we don’t change our life systems to be able to sustain our new weight.

I’ve heard it said that we need to focus on the root not the fruit. Jon Gordon has said it, I’ve heard pastors say it, in fact Jesus himself said something quite similar. Too often, we want the fruit without establishing the root. If we want to become the kind of men who make a difference in the world, we have to learn to be patient and build up the supporting systems.

Be patient. That’s something we’re not very good at anymore. We think it’s a trial if our Amazon prime shipment is a day late.

But, if we can learn together to focus on the roots, providing the ideal conditions to facilitate root growth, the fruit will come. It will take work. It will take pruning. It will take unlearning some bad practices and learning good ones.

I just recently read an article about an orchard where they have been eating apples from trees in the orchard that are over 100 years old. That’s amazing. They’re eating apples from a tree that their great-great grandparents planted.

That’s what I’m talking about. Legacy. If we focus on the root, and the systems to maintain the trees, we too can leave a legacy that will far outlast our bones.