“Would you rather eat an apple or become a tree?”
The Great Apple Dilemma has existed since the Garden of Eden—the lure and lust to place “knowing” above “communing” with one’s Maker. Now I’m not a theologian nor is this a commentary on the book of Genesis, but the apple represents something to me—my temptation to demand knowledge of the future RIGHT NOW, thank you. I want it all figured out today, and God just better comply!
I hiss at Eve giving into the seductive words of the slithering serpent, “…your eyes shall be open, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”
Yet if honest, I take a bite of that apple when I insist on knowledge over trust. The monologue of my temptation goes something like this:
“Lord, I need to know what to do next. Should it be this ____ or_____. Just give me a sign. Is ________ really your will? What do you want me to do? If I only knew the right thing to do tomorrow, a year from now (I fill the blanks in differently depending upon the circumstances).”
Scripture reminds me, “knowledge puffs up but love edifies.” To edify means to enlighten: to improve the morals or knowledge of somebody. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about knowledge in a good sense. I rather think learning is positive. After all, I am an educator. God never asks us to place our brains on a shelf. But when I use knowledge to feel in control so I don’t have to trust, I’m biting into the apple. Often the next-best-step in my life doesn’t come when I insist it should.
Also on my list of no no’s is the temptation to gain power through knowledge and eclipse others with my ego’s shadow. When either happens, I should rethink the tree option.
I could become a tree. Trees, like love, edify—enlighten or improve others. God plants a tiny seed of faith deep in your heart. You water with contemplation of what is truly important and feed with nurturing yourself. God calls us to “love one another as we love ourselves.”
Yet trees, unlike some people, grow into a mature stage where they provide shade, a home for animals, and some grow fruit. Birds of the air nest in their branches and weary travelers escape the sun under their leaves. If you bite an apple, you eat for a moment. but if you become a tree, you give for a lifetime.
Now this isn’t to say we should become codependent trees. Have you read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? I adore this story but question the message. In this classic children’s book, the tree gives to the boy until he strips her down to a stump. The book ends with her last gift. He sits on her stump contemplating his life (rather selfish if you ask me). No, we become trees that nourish ourselves and provide for others in a balanced way. People who become trees trust that answers will come in good time. In the meantime, they serve. I want to be like those people.
So the next time you wrestle with God’s will, remember The Great Apple Dilemma. Refuse the apple and become a tree.