Have you ever learned a spiritual lesson from a lime? I haven’t either. That is, until this week.
Our lime tree has traveled with us from house to house over the last six years. She lived in a large pot in Laguna Niguel for 2 years, moved with us to Costa Mesa for 3 ½ years, now she resides comfortably here at our current home in Irvine for the last year.
A year ago we were ready to give up hope on her as she had hit a plateau and hadn’t produced fruit for a few years. Strangely enough, the first 2 seasons of her life we couldn’t eat limes fast enough. It seemed like everything we ate or drank was lime flavored so they wouldn’t go to waste. We’d have guests over at our house and send them home with limes because they were being pumped out like a factory. Seriously, dozens of limes from one tiny little tree in a pot.
Then it all stopped. It was like all the factory workers went on furlough and no one was left to operate the production line. Year 3 she didn’t produce one single lime. Okay so maybe it was an off season. Springtime of year 4 comes around with high hopes of a renewed factory….and, nothing again. Surely, year 5 will produce fruit, right? Not a one! The interesting part is that the tree looked exactly the same as it did in year 1 and 2. The leaves were bright green and she was standing firm. We tried fertilizer, pruning, and changing the soil out but nothing seemed to work.
So about 6 months ago, I decided to plant her into the ground which would mean taking her out of the big comfortable travel pot she’s been in her entire life. Wouldn’t you know it; just months after I took her out of the confined area, she recently produced this fruit after bearing nothing for years.
It was a beautiful site!
So I can pretty much twist anything into a spiritual lesson if I wanted to, but I wonder if there truly is a lesson to be learned here. How much can we the Church learn from a lime tree about producing fruit, hitting a plateau and hopefully one day seeing fruit again? The fact is when I took the tree out of its confined area it began to grow and produce fruit again. I think the Church can get comfortable in her confined spaces and wonder why she isn’t seeing fruit. Whether our confined space is a church building, a group of Christian friends, or even our own home, we can have a tendency to get comfortably confined. What if instead of looking for comfort we began looking for opportunities to be uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s in the uncomfortable, less confined areas where we begin seeing fruit again. For you, that could simply mean walking across the street and saying hello to a neighbor, or maybe it’s sharing your faith story with a coworker. I think missionaries all across the world have to learn this lesson of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable over and over again. They do this by leaving their confinement.
My lime tree was really comfortable in her pot. When she came out of her cozy spot she gave me the best tasting lime I’ve had in awhile. Seriously it was juicy and perfect.