It was a hot day in August as we rode with our four teens on a bus in Israel. One of the first things you notice in Israel is the olive trees. According to Israeli law, olive trees represent ownership of the land, if you own the olive tree, you own that portion of land. On this particular day our tour our guide, Yossi, talked about the different philosophies behind planting olive trees in the land of Israel, the Arab perspective and the Jewish perspective.
Yossi explained that the Arab method takes a cutting or shoot from a live tree and places it in a hole dug for the new tree. The shoot is then placed in the ground, watered and given the necessary fertilizer to grow. Eventually the tree grows and bears fruit. This is the Arab method of growing an olive tree: cut, plant, water, fertilize, fruit.
The Jewish method begins the same as the Arab method with a cutting. However, that is where the similarities between the two methods end. The Israelis place the little shoot into a soil plug in order to tend it in a nursery until it is deemed strong enough to be transplanted. While in the nursery the little sapling is watered, fertilized, and the plant is cared for to ensure it grows strong. In due time the gardener sees that the plant is ready and he transplants it into the field and eventually it too bears fruit.
At this point Yossi stopped and asked if we had any questions. I did, “What is the difference between the two trees in the end?” He paused and said, “The quality of the fruit.”
The Lord left us the commission to “go and make disciples”. How can we ensure that our little plants grow up to be strong disciples and in turn make disciples?
Mark 16:28 gives us clues,
- • Teaching them to love and obey God and His Word
- • Pray for them
- • Equip them to teach and disciple others
Imagine what the church “olive grove” would look like in the next generation if we took the time now to tenderly care for, water, fertilize and see to the proper growth our children and those we teach in other settings. You can play a part in making sure that those you are caring for are strong and bear good and strong fruit.
Here are some steps for those of us tending our gardens to take.
- • Spend time in the Bible ourselves: nothing replaces what God’s Word can give us
- • Pray: for ourselves and others
- • Rest: this is the hardest, especially for us busy moms, but it is a command not an option
- • Be prepared when we teach: the better we prepare the more our students will learn.
I am excited as I see so many young people coming to age who have had an “Israeli planting.” They were tenderly cared for, and transplanted at just the right time. They have come from homes that were not perfect, nor raised by ideal parents, but where they were loved, taught, and trained. These young people are making a difference in their world and so will your children. The question arises, what will be the quality of their impact (fruit).
One day we will all stand before the Master Gardener, and He will examine the quality of our fruit. Oh, let us hear Him say to us and those who we have discipled, “Well Done.”
May God bless you as you tend the young trees in your nursery,
Dianna and her husband, John, live in Wyoming and are parents to four grown children. Dianna is the primary author for Grapevine Studies, the stick figure Bible curriculum. Dianna brings an energetic and creative approach to her studies that enables her students to learn through direct interaction with the Bible.
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