One autumn afternoon Matt decided to pedal his bike around the section to see how harvest was going. Well, that’s what he told his ma. His real objective was to check on Mr. Bright’s apples and possibly “borrow” a few.
Along the way, Matt did check on the neighbor’s fields. Of particular interest was Mr. Patterson’s pumpkin patch. Soon the factory workers would flock to the field to row the pumpkins with one kind of machine and then lift the pumpkins into the back of trucks with another strange looking machine. Mr. King already had his corn in Matt noted as he turned the northeast corner. But across the road, old Johnny Darst’s corn was still standing. Another mile, a few more fields, and Matt came upon Mr. Bright’s place.
Laying his bike in the ditch Matt carefully climbed the wire fence and dropped into Mr. Bright’s pasture. A few of the grazing sheep looked up and wondered about the intruder but soon went back to their sweet grass. The apple tree stood in the middle of the pasture, unlike the modern dwarf variety this one was a good 30 feet tall and was loaded with deep red apples. Matt picked a few of the low hanging fruit and sat with his back to the trunk and his face to the road. It was a relaxing, satisfying, content moment away from schoolwork, chores, and siblings.
“Hello there,” Matt heard with a start, his quiet moment turning towards shock and fear. A big hand gently landed on his shoulder. “Didn’t mean to scare you so, I thought you heard me coming.” Matt had met Mr. Bright several times and he always looked the same. Thin as a blade of grass and taller than most. He always seemed to have on the same bib overalls and the same worn out Dekalb seed hat. It was his eyes that Matt noticed most because they always seemed to take in everything that was around. “Looks like you’ve been helping yourself to some of my apples. How are they this year?”
“Uh,” Matt said looking into those eyes, “they’re really good.”
“Good, I thought they might be ready.” Mr. Bright pulls a plastic bag from his pocket and hands it to Matt. “Feel free to take some home.”
“You’re, you’re not mad at me?” Matt asked
“Well, I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t feel the need to ask me first, but I forgive you,” Mr. Bright said while carefully choosing and plucking one of the apples. “These are mighty tempting after all.”
“You can say that again,” Matt said.
Sitting on the ground next to Matt Mr. Bright asked, “Anybody ever tell you the apple seed gospel?”
“I don’t think so, I mean, I’ve heard about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”
“Well, this is kinda related. Perhaps simply another way to say the same thing.” Mr. Bright rubbed the apple against his pants giving a glow to the apple’s dark red skin. “Pretty thing ain’t it. These red ones always remind me of Jesus. The color is so dark it reminds me of my sins and the blood of Jesus that washed them away.” Taking a bite from the apple, “my that’s good.” Turning the apple so that Matt could see the inside. “But while the outside is red, the inside is white, untainted and pure.” Jesus didn’t go to the cross because of His own sin but because of ours. We’re more like that rotting apple over there.” Mr. Bright kicked at one of the fallen apples that had begun to turn brown. “But that’s what Jesus does, takes an old fallen, bruised, rotting apple and makes them like new again.”
“But what about the apple seeds? You said this was the apple seed gospel.”
“So I did,” Mr. Bright replied. “Go pick me out another apple.” While Matt wandered the tree looking for the best one within his reach, Mr. Bright retrieved a pocket knife from his overalls. Matt soon returned with a beautiful one and handed it to Mr. Bright. “Nope, you hold onto it. Take this knife and cut it in half around the middle.”
“Hey look, there’s a star,” Matt exclaimed.
“Yep, every apple has that five-pointed star. In one sense, it reminds me of the star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem. But it also tells me that God has given every person five things, five seeds for them to plant and care for. The first seed is life, only God can give life. We may help it along a bit at times, but it all starts with God. The second seed is love, God loved us first; long before we even understood it. The third seed is faith, God grants to each person a seed of faith in order to follow His word. The fourth seed is time, or you could say eternity because while time starts and stops what God has given us extends beyond time. The last seed is purpose as in God’s unique plan for each of us. Follow so far?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Matt replied examining the five-pointed star.
“So, what do you think God wants you to do with those seeds?” Mr. Bright asked.
“I don’t know, plant them I suppose?”
“Right, God wants us to plant the seeds he gives us. Often however we simply throw them away. Kind of like today. In a way, you threw away a seed of love by choosing to take apples without asking me. But let me ask you this, how many seeds are in an apple?”
“Five,” Matt replied.
“Okay, how many apples are in a seed?”
“uh,” Matt said his mind beginning to reel with the possibilities. “I guess only God could figure that one out,” he finally answered.
“Right!, Our job is to plant seeds and watch them grow. There’s a Bible verse that comes to mind. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6–7, NASB95) You see, you threw a seed away today, but I planted one by forgiving you.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Mr. Bright, I should have asked you first.
“As I said, you are forgiven both by me and by God. How about we fill that bag so you can take some of these delicious apples back to your family?”