Pops of orange pumpkins dot my porch. Brown corn stalks stand still and wait patiently for the farmer. Day by day, the fields are harvested and the hiding places for deer are exposed. The bee hurries to gather her last bit of sweetness from the fallen apples, warm in the afternoon sun.
The apple trees on our farm produce sparingly, a result of years without proper pruning or care. Of course, far from my reach is the reddest, most beautiful apple perfect for picking. I’ve looked to the apple of my eye and considered asking him to scale the tree, but it’s a temptation I’ve avoided. Tall as he is, Wade isn’t fond of heights.
Oh, but there are plenty of other, worse temptations I’m prone to falling to. Like the repeating greenish-red apples that speckle the limbs, I tend to sin in similar ways over and over. On my better days, I praise the Lord that I’m not tempted with spectacular variety, rather called to overcome the trials of this day as a woman, a wife, a mother… but mamas know, patience can be tested in a million different ways before lunch.
Wade, our pastor, and I are leading the church’s high school youth through a study on covenants. The first week, we discussed the difference between a covenant and a contract. Quiet and shifting, I watched as they grasped the difference between relationships forged on trading goods and services (contracts) compared to covenants that exchange persons—like how in our wedding vows, I freely gave myself to Wade, and him to me.
Last week, we discussed Adam and Eve. Spoiler alert: our goal is for the teenagers to see how from the very beginning, God has had a plan for our redemption, how we’re all embraced as beloved daughters and sons, and how absolutely perfect God’s love is for us. I started with the background of Genesis 1 and 2 before reading Chapter 3: The Fall.
If Adam and Eve are our first parents, I think it’s safe to say the rest of the billions of apples didn’t fall far from the tree. We needed a Savior, a gardener to tend to our broken, barren hearts. God always gives us what we need.
Just as Eve’s disobedience brought death (sin) to the world, Mary’s obedience brought Life itself: Jesus Christ. Jesus comes to do the will of the Father, not his own, like Adam. To continue the comparisons, Adam’s decision brought the curse of thorns and thickets, and Jesus wore that curse as a crown. Adam names Eve the “mother of all living,” and Jesus names Mary as the mother of all God’s people (Jn 19:26-27). Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Life, as the New Adam, Jesus, died on a tree so that we may have life. God, in His goodness, provided Adam and Eve with clothes when they realized they were naked. Jesus, in His goodness, clothes us in righteousness. There are other similarities that speak to the perfect plan of God’s, but one of my favorites comes after the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord. When Mary Magdalene saw Jesus for the first time after His resurrection, she didn’t recognize him, “supposing him to be the gardener,” (Jn 20:15).
Jesus freely gave his life for us and brought New Covenant to the whole world. Jesus is the gardener of resurrection and new life, and gardeners cannot be distant. He’s with us, Emmanuel, in our midst and in the mix. Daily, He plants, prunes, and protects. He transforms us by tilling and turning the soil of our souls and weeding out our vices. He cultivates and cares for us, His co-heirs.
And all those apples that fall, bruised and busted, aren’t wasted. The good gardener gathers them, washes them, and still gives them a delicious purpose: sauce, cider, even pie.