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Lessons from the fruit trees: What legacy will you leave?

Recently when I flew to Georgia for my sister Maria’s college graduation, I went to visit my dad at his nearly 100-year-old house.

My dad, forever the workaholic, says he is now “semi-retired” as a CPA; instead of working from 8 or 9 a.m. until 9 or 10 p.m (like he has many years of his life), he now “only works” from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. This amuses me because he is 75 years old! He just loves to work and gets a lot of fulfillment out of it.

While I was there visiting him, he showed me some fruit trees and a grape vine he had planted in the back yard, which I will share more about in a minute.

My dad Leland Jr. was raised by a small tobacco farmer, Leland S. Moore, and worked hard on the farm every day with his mother Leola, his brother William and his sister Betty, and other relatives. They also grew other crops, such as cotton, watermelon, corn, and peanuts. Daddy laughed when he told me a relative of his told my dad that he’s the only person he knows who had actually plowed with a mule when he was younger!

My grandfather Leland, who died before I was born, believed in hard work. Daddy told me the story, laughing, of his uncle Jesse, who got mad because my grandfather once made him plow a whole field and then didn’t plant anything in the field; he had just made Jesse plow it to do the work to keep him out of trouble.

This vein of hard work runs in our entire family. My dad, my brothers, my sister and I all tend toward workaholism. As I was growing up, my father – who had his CPA business in our home – always made sure that us four kids were doing some kind of work. “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” If he came upstairs to check on us after we were home from school and we were sitting in front of the T.V. watching the Flinstones or Gilligan’s Island as we were prone to do, he would immediately put us to work: washing the car, raking leaves, doing laundry or dishes, vacuuming the floors, dusting.

On Saturday mornings – our one chance to sleep in after school all week – our dad would come into our rooms to wake us up for some inane chore that would take hours of our day, like washing our house’s wrap-around porch. At the time, my brother Greg and I (who seemed to get the bulk of the work because we were older) disliked and resented it. Now I really appreciate my father teaching me a strong work ethic! My dad knew that laziness is a poor character trait.(Everything in moderation – sometimes we do need to rest, relax and just have FUN!)

Anyway, back to the fruit trees. Growing things – and doing hard work – is just in my father’s blood. So he was upset when the fruit trees he had planted – lemon, orange, and cherry – only produced small fruit, and then birds or something ruined the fruit on them. The grape vine had not produced at all. I could see the disappointment on his face as he showed me the trees and my heart went out to him. Of course, it could be that particular soil wasn’t conducive to growing those types of trees and the birds didn’t help. The orange tree eventually produced small oranges, and my dad was proud of that and took a picture with Maria’s kids with the oranges in their hands. But God immediately began speaking to me through these unfruitful trees.

What kind of legacy do we want in our lives and to pass on to our children? A godly legacy or none at all for our children, grandchildren, and future generations? It all starts with us – our decisions, our choices, today.

Will we obey God? Will we teach our children and grandchildren to obey God’s word? Will we be a godly example for them to follow, and experience God’s blessings – prosperity, divine health, joy, peace, love, goodness, self control, patience, kindness? Or will we show them instead strife, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, depression, discouragement, poverty, debt, struggles, unhappiness?

“Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7: 16-19, NLT)

We can either produce good spiritual fruit in our lives, and have it live on through our children and future generations, or we can produce bad fruit and have that live on in our families. Which do you choose?

After my father showed me the fruit trees, though, he then pointed to a huge pine tree nearby that I was looking at and he said, “I planted that tree here just before you were born.” I gasped, “You did?” Even now, remembering this, tears fill my eyes.

I looked at the enormous tree and then up at it, reaching high into the blue sky. God spoke to my heart immediately and showed me that I had a choice: I could either be like those unfruitful fruit trees, that the birds of the air had eaten its fruit from, or I could be like this enormous, tall tree growing high into the heavens, steady and strong and lasting.

It blessed me SOOO much. I, Beth, could leave a lasting legacy for my children and grandchildren by following God!

Which do you choose today?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 1-27)



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