At a Vineyard regional conference over the summer the National Director of the Vineyard, a guy named Phil Strout, told this story of an experience he had last Spring.
On his property in Maine sat 3 identical apple trees. They were equal in size to each other, about 20 years old, full-grown, mature, planted by the previous owner in a beautiful triangle.
One spring day Phil was out mowing his property on his tractor and was carefully making his way around the three apple trees. He took one corner a bit too close and nudged one of the trees. To his great surprise it snapped straight across the middle and crashed to the ground. He said as soon as the tree hit the ground he sensed the Lord say, “Pay attention to this.”
The core of this apple tree was completely rotten. It was gone, there was no center. All that was left beneath the bark was a 1/4” chord that was still, somehow, translocating nutrients from the roots to the branches. But the tree was effectively dead.
It looked just like the other two trees. It most likely would have produced fruit that season. But there was no life on the inside.
We can run, some of us, for a very long time on a very thin slice of ourselves, on a nominal cognitive recognition of our connection with God’s Spirit.
We can make things happen, keep our lives moving, maybe even produce good fruit.
Others may believe that we are healthy and vibrant and strong.
They might tell us so. We might even believe ourselves that we’re doing pretty well. Busy, you know, but good.
It is very easy to slip into a kind of automatic living that provides very little actual contact with our inner life, the source of our strength: our core.
Jesus was highly interested in matters of the heart. Accomplishments, religious or otherwise, were not impressive to him. His concern is with the heart of the matter — because that’s where transformation can occur.
Join us this Sunday as we consider some of the obstacles and invitations of coming into contact with our true self, with God’s Spirit, with the core of our lives.