Last week, we took our family apple picking. After taking a tram to the orchards, we saw row after row of perfectly manicured and irrigated trees, most of which were filled with delicious fruit. After an hour or so, we carried out of the orchards about 60 pounds of jonagold, red delicious and cortland apples, as well as a dozen Asian pears. That total does not include the dozen or more apples the six of us ate while we were harvesting the fruit. As I was enjoying the freshly picked produce, I was struck by all the hard work and effort required to provide us with that time of enjoyment.
The fruit that dressed the apple and pear trees on October 12th was not produced on October 11th. In fact, it took somewhere between three and seven years to produce the first crop of edible fruit, so the apples I ate were from a tree planted at least in 2012 (and likely much earlier than that). Then there were hours and hours of watering, weeding, stabilizing, fertilizing and pruning the trees. My family, and the thousand or so visitors to the orchard that day, became the beneficiaries of all that hard work and were able to enjoy what so many labored to produce.
“…but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV)
The Psalmist describes those who engage in Bible study similarly to those apple and pear trees. Hard work has been performed to bear good fruit; people have meditated on (literally, “ruminated or chewed over”) God’s law, His written word; this meditation, or digesting, of God’s word is continual, as it occurs both night and day; this continual consumption of God’s word has been prosperous, bearing fruit at just the right time, and giving life, as the leaf will not wither. The biblical promise has been made that if we invest in delighting ourselves in and devoting ourselves to God written word, we will be productive and prodigious.
Is it possible that we can apply the principles of agriculture to our Bible study? Can we project that, like verdant trees, whoever exerts the effort to truly know God’s word will be prosperous? I delight in knowing that God’s word will not return empty: I trust God to take what I have memorized from scripture and bring it back to my mind in the moment I need it; I trust that God will take what I have shared with others and allow it to resurface when the time is right. That is the promise we can claim through Psalm 1.
Bible study may, like trees in an orchard, require hours and hours of watering, weeding, stabilizing, fertilizing and pruning. It will produce fruit, but instead of apples and pears we’ll see the hope and peace and knowledge of God. The effort is all worth it when we enjoy the fruit, especially when it tastes like an apple pie.