08 March 2013

Even Oranges

Even oranges have a growing season. Clementines are ripe in the US in December and January, but it takes the tree blooming, dropping several sets of flowers, selectively allowing the best fruit to grow, and then a period of a few months before the fruit can be eaten. I imagine it can be a beautiful process, walking an orchard every day, tending to the trees, coaxing the fruit along, praying for rain and no surprise frost.

Did Moses know that the journey would take more than 40 years in the desert? That he wouldn't really experience his people's land? Think about that. Forty years ago, it was 1973. If you started walking in 1973 to find a home, you might be starting to think about settling down now. (Yes, the people over a certain age died, for their rebellion, but that is a different part of the account.) The Bible describes Moses as a man to whom God spoke, face to face, unlike the prophets to whom God spoke in visions and dreams. And yes, Moses was leading a people, and yes, that is a pretty big deal, but 40 years is enough time to find monotony in nearly everything. (Even the signs and wonders that God had done in Egypt, and since.)

I imagine that tending an orchard would be hard, with the sun weathering your skin, the branches scraping your arms and hands, the bugs ruining the crop. But you do it for the fruit, the end result. Did Moses get anxious? Saying, "Lord, how long? Why do we wander without ceasing?" It would seem to me, that Moses would have been tempted to sit down on a rock in the middle of the wilderness and say, "Lord. I am stopping. These people are grumbling, they are worshiping idols and they don't deserve this. We aren't getting anywhere."

And then, Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it, and he was told he would not enter the land. At that point, what was his goal? It wasn't really him being able to settle down in a good land...or was it? He sought the Lord's face, saying at one point that he would not go up from a place unless the Lord was with him. He obeyed in the desert, and his goal was God Himself. So, in a sense, there is often a tangible goal. The fruit will ripen and the orchard will produce...a land may be found. But often, the harvest is thin, the climate unfavorable, and all you have to show for your work are some scars, a tan, and well-toned arms.

Brothers, He is not slow in keeping his promises. Maybe we are His orchard, and he is pruning us, readying us to be presented to His Son in glory, as a bride. Maybe those scars, tan, and well-toned arms are what He is seeking in us. ;)