Author: Amy Ostwald
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
From our view at the dining room table, Mom and I can see one lone crab apple hanging tenaciously from a thin branch of the tree. Its existence seems miraculous.
Last spring, we watched the tree’s white blossoms fall like snowflakes during a heavy rain, and then we watched green half-eaten bits of fruit fall as birds discarded what they didn’t want. Later we watched the squirrels sprinting up and down the tree, gathering what they could. And for weeks now, our meals have been peppered with the “thud” sound of apples as they fall on the patio.
Looking out our window, this one little apple appears to be the sole survivor; it alone has escaped perilous forces working against it. Its rich red color stands out against the darker palette, and it seems to be making a stand— refusing to give up. We wonder: How much longer will it be able to hang on?
This little crab apple has come to remind me of my own faith, which at times also feels beleaguered, fragile and solitary. Lately I have been discouraged by humanity’s inability to get its act together; every morning the news about issues like COVID, global warming and desperate refugees wears down my hope.
A few days ago though, when the temperature cooled and the smokey air cleared, I stepped out onto the patio to do a little sweeping. I happened to tip my head back and look up… and I discovered that our crabapple tree was actually still FULL of beautiful, bright apples; I just couldn’t see them from inside the house. The little lone apple we were seeing from our window was not the only one after all.
I was suddenly transported from a sense of despair to a feeling of abundant fellowship. This expanded view— the one revealing branches heavily populated with healthy fruit— gifted me with encouragement. It was like going to church on a Sunday morning. Gazing up at the whole tree, I was reminded that I am not alone in my quest to keep faith alive.
Now I can see friends getting electric vehicles and putting up solar panels; I see people stretching out their arms and resources to folks in Haiti and Afghanistan; I see others working around the clock to get vaccinations out. There are countless human beings who are holding onto hope and acting with faith— I just need to look around more, and then join them.
I place my faith before you, O God. Hold my hope, nourish my hope, protect it. And when discouragement pulls me down, shift my view. Help me see the abundance of good hearts and hands all around me — and allow me to draw encouragement from these souls. AMEN