Once there grew a Love-ly tree. The Love-ly tree was so very proud of its green, healthy leaves and sturdy brown trunk. The Love-ly tree grew among Many trees that weren't as Love-ly and healthy. It was so proud to be a Love-ly tree among Many Love-ly trees.
Day after day, the sun shone and the gentle rains soaked the ground to help the Love-ly tree to keep its Love-ly-ness. The Love-ly tree took the Sun-and-Rain for granted assuming the goodness of Sun-and-Rain would always be there. It was a very young Love-ly tree, by the way.
As the Love-ly tree grew lovelier and healthier through the sunny, rainy season, it began to think that the sun shone and the rain fell because the Love-ly tree was so Love-ly. And the Love-ly tree grew very proud, boasting to the other trees of its Love-ly-ness. And the Love-ly tree was Love-ly, until...
No rain came and the sun was hotter than it had ever been. The Love-ly tree's leaves curled and browned in the Sun-with-no-Rain. Instead of shiny, green leaves that fluttered in the soft breeze, the Love-ly tree's leaves rattled and dropped off the branches at an alarming rate.
The Love-ly tree did everything it knew to do to produce Love-ly leaves. Love-ly tree's efforts didn't work. The Love-ly tree cursed the sun and rainless days. The cursing didn't bring back the Love-ly tree's Love-ly-ness.
The Love-ly tree heard the whispers and laughs of the other trees even though they were all in the same condition; dry and curled and brown. The Love-ly tree blamed the other unLove-ly trees and was shamed to look like THEM.
One day, the Love-ly tree (who had become very unLove-ly by this time) heard a noise below of crunching and swishing. A Man walked through the grove of unLove-ly trees. His face was lifted and smiling because of what he saw. Where the Love-ly tree only saw brown, curling leaves, The Man was in rapture by the various brilliant colors of rust, orange, red, yellow. The Man saw what the Love-ly tree didn't see.
The Man knew the Sadness in the mind of the Love-ly tree and spoke to him. "Don't despair Love-ly tree. This death and loss of your leaves is only a SEASON. This SEASON of changing, death and loss will not touch your Roots."
The Love-ly tree didn't know about Roots being the source of his life and health. All he cared about were the leaves on the outside.
The Man continued speaking. "During the SEASON of death, your Roots will continue to grow and remain strong. Soon will come a SEASON of renewal and life. You will see new green leaves and bear FRUIT as you go through more seasons of change."
The Love-ly tree had heard of FRUIT but didn't understand why Love-ly trees would bear these.
"FRUIT is not for you, dear Love-ly tree," the Man spoke tenderly. "FRUIT is for Many sad, hungry, pale people to come."
The Love-ly tree listened carefully to the Man's gentle, loving words and believed them and hoped for the SEASON of renewal and life.
As the SEASON of death came and the Love-ly tree looked at the bare branches, doubt and disbelief came into his mind. Then the Love-ly tree remembered the words of The Man and believed.
Day by cold day, the Love-ly tree refused to believe what he saw and believed the promise of The Man.
Finally, the SEASON of death changed to the SEASON of life and renewal. The Love-ly tree and his friends grew new leaves, green and shiny.
One day, the Love-ly tree looked and saw strange shapes hanging from his Love-ly branches and on the branches of his friends. It was FRUIT!
Then they heard the shuffling of Many people with sad, hungry, pale faces looking at the ground.
"Up here!" shouted the Love-ly tree. "Look up here at our FRUIT! Our FRUIT is for you; sad, hungry, pale people!"
The sad, hungry, pale people looked up, smiled and rejoiced for the FRUIT of the Love-ly trees.
For the Love-ly tree had believed the words The Man had promised even when the Love-ly tree was unLove-ly.
Hebrews 11:6 "Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him." (Holman Christian Standard)
John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."