I have at my desk a little tree. It is still very green, as you can see in the picture. I acquired it about a month or two ago. Some of the seeds from a Maple Tree here at the MTC had sprouted early for some reason, and there were several little trees growing in the ground. Being the middle of winter, I figured the trees wouldn’t last long, and they would soon be dead. I had also thought it would be nice to have a plant here with me in the MTC. How cool would it be to have a tree which I had found on my mission, and then nurtured and grown myself? I could plant it somewhere, and then come and see it years later. It could be a land mark for generations. I could see it in my mind, posterity telling little wide-eyed generations of children “that is the tree which great-grandpa Spencer saved on his mission.” I can imagine many other such things, most definitely involving a tire-swing of some kind. But, I won’t bore you with those. Don’t be fooled, while the tree still if very green, it is about as crispy as a twig in a furnace, completely dehydrated and certainly overcooked. I haven’t thrown it out, yet. I do have faith that it may yet revive. But it made me think a little about how much life is sometimes like growing a tree.
I don’t know very much about growing trees. My plan was to put it in a place where it could get the optimal amount of sunshine. I stored it behind the barrier on our desk, on the wide window sill, where it could catch the morning sun. I am not really sure what a tree needs to grow, I thought it would be pretty simple. I have it in a cup of dirt, it could get a little sun, there is a drinking fountain in the hall for me and watering the tree. Everything went well at first, but being behind the desk, I had completely forgotten about it until just recently. Currently it in a very dismal state, I am not quite sure how long it has gone without water . . . I think two weeks or so. But, I have it on my desk so I can remember it and I am hoping it will revive.
Alma compares our faith to a seed in the Book of Mormon. Neglect has been the detrimental influence on the tree I have. I got it; I saw it was good, I was glad to have it. Many people also do the same with the gospel. The receive it with joy, but don’t do anything with it. Alma warns us:
“But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold, it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth is, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.”
Who wants to keep a dead tree? Just as Alma says, when we neglect it, it dies, and we then cast it out. It looks ugly, lifeless; it is difficult to remember what it was before. As we find the blessings and see the fruit of the gospel, we need to continue with diligence and patience in nourishing and helping it grow. Our testimonies need basic things just like a tree. We need to pray for ourselves to build a relationship with God, to feel the sunlight of His love to motivate us and help guide us upwards. We need to read the scriptures to find the nourishment for our roots, the doctrines and focus to give us strength to grow. We go to church to take the sacrament to repent and be cleansed spiritually. We are revitalized, strengthened and washed clean just as fresh water to a hungry plant. As we do these things, we can see our faith grow. Without these vital things, it soon dies and seems ugly to us.
Tree’s are great. They give us shade, they are fun to climb, they make places for birds, they make oxygen for us to breathe, and we can even put tire swings in them. But, in my opinion, the best part of a tree is the fruit. Alma describes the fruit of the gospel as being “most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.” Christ told the women at the well “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” It is in Christ we find the fruit to which Alms refers. It is grown throughout our lives. We continually nourish it, we help it grow. We have patience and diligence and longsuffering. At the last, we can find the joy and fruit in and through Jesus Christ.
|Garden of Gethsemane|
I do know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know we can find peace and comfort through Him no matter what our situation is. I know as the great Healer, He can heal our faith no matter how it is, and help it grow into a solid tree. I know He loves us and is always working for us. Let us make room for His love through covenants of baptism and renewing it through the sacrament which make room for a greater portion of His spirit. Let us continue in faith through praying and reading the scriptures daily, and repent as we make mistakes. As we do, our tree will most assuredly grow, and bring us the fruit of the gospel, which fruit is “most desirable.”