Saturday, August 10, 2013


Back in the early 80's, Barbara Walters, on one of her innumerable television specials, asked Katherine Hepburn, "What kind of tree are you? If you'd think you were a tree?" What an incredibly lame question. What kind of tree would you be? We are humans, right?

I was reminded of that infamous question this week and Katherine Hepburn's answer which was actually pretty good. "Oh, I'd like . . . everyone would like to be an oak tree. They're very strong, very pretty." This week a severe storm went through northeast Wisconsin and destroyed many trees, power poles and buildings. One of those trees was in our front yard. A maple. I bet our tree was wishing it was a "very strong" oak tree the other night when that storm went through our subdivision and tore a quarter of it off.

The weather service is now stating that there were five EF-2 tornadoes that touched down around the area. I believe it. Over 53,000 people were without power and many trees were uprooted of simply snapped in half. Trees aren't much of a match for tornadoes, especially if they have been weakened in some way during the past. Our faith is much like a tree in a storm.

For the most part, God intends that all of his creations grow perfectly and lead wonderful and fulfilling lives, worshipping Him. But things happen along the way. People get distracted. We tend to stray from God's perfect plan for us and we begin to wander - much like sheep. Hmm. I have only one thing to say about that. "Baa." But we're talking about trees today, not sheep.

So, what's MY answer to the "What kind of tree are you question?" I'd like you to read this parable and then I will give you my answer.

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” - Luke 13:6-9

That's kind of scary. Especially considering that, through my faith in Jesus Christ, my tree is now planted in God's vineyard. We are the trees my friends. You and me. It doesn't really matter what kind of tree we are.

So what  matters most in the Parable of The Barren Fig Tree?

  1. That we are planted in God's vineyard.
  2. That we bear fruit. (Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
We as "trees" cannot determine where we are planted . . . but God can. As it says in John 6:44 . . .

"44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

Nor can we earn our way into God's garden by works alone. It also says in Ephesians "8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast."

This weekend is our family reunion in Michigan. There will be many different kinds of "trees" present when we all gather together. Some will be firmly rooted in God's vineyard, others are on the outside, looking in. Those of us who do not bear fruit, whether inside the garden or out, will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

So, let me ask that stupid question one more time. What kind of tree do you want to be? I think the correct answer is, "A fruit tree. I wanted to bear fruit for my vinedresser. He planted me here for a purpose - to produce fruit for him. How can I as a fruit tree have the desire to do anything else?

What kind of a tree are you? - Katherine Hepburn's response

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