As I watched the tree receive its treatment, it occurred to me how easily I related her care of the lemon tree to the care God, my Gardener, has provided when I've encountered “mite” attacks of my own. My heart began to fill with five Lessons from the Lemon Tree.
Even within the very best environment-attacks can happen.
While the lemon tree was thriving on the deck, the best environment for its growth and development, it was still susceptible to danger. Our assignment is to realize the same applies to us; we can be thriving within the best environment and still be susceptible to a mite attack. These little nuisances show up at your place of employment, within your circle of friends, your marriage, and family, even your church. In every environment, mites are lurking. These attacks are of the, I-never-saw-that-coming, variety. They blindside you and catch you totally off guard because you believed you were in an environment of safety and never dreamt this could happen. The web on her tree caught my friend completely off guard and I’ve never met a person who hasn’t felt the sting of shock by the discovery of an attack from a co-worker, family member, friend and a brother or sister in Christ. While we must remain faithful to park ourselves in an environment where the Son will help us thrive and grow, it’s imperative we remain alert; mite attacks can happen anywhere. Paul offers sound advice in First Thessalonians 5:5, “So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded” (NLT).
Mites are so small an attack can be hard to recognize.
Did you know that a house dust mite is barely visible to the naked eye? These guys are tiny-itty-bitty-scavengers and often it’s the itty-bitty-irritations of life which initiate attack on us. We are quick to assume a little irritation is nothing and we try to shrug it off as that - nothing. But what happens when too many little-itty-bitty-irritations haven’t been completely brushed off? They become many mites ready to attack, or perhaps explode. Solomon, in his wisdom informed us “the spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being” (Proverbs 20:27, AMP). I’ve become very aware of my need to ask the Examiner to shine His light on the mites that have comfortably settled within making my inner most part home. Pretending "I'm ok" when in fact, irritation rests within my innermost part instigates the explosion of emotional mites. That's never pretty. I must learn to recognize the smallest of mites and remove them quickly and if I don’t, or can’t...
Failing to recognize the mites may leave you vulnerable and unprotected.
It was only when the tree began to wilt, the urgency for intervention was made visible. There’s a good possibility that can happen to us as well. In fact I know it’s possible; I’ve seen it occur in the lives of others; as well as my own. Without ever recognizing the burn-out-mite was attacking, we find ourselves with little left to give. When the discontent-with-my-life-mite initiates attack, seeking satisfaction outside of God’s boundaries becomes very appealing. We are often stunned when we witness a mite attack within His house; we never expect to find them there, but they are. There are power-struggle-mites and the prayer-turned-to-gossip-mites as well as the don't-step-on-my-toes mites. We’ve witnessed the preacher-hurt-by-people-mite and the people-hurt-by-preacher-mite. We can find ourselves in a sticky situation when the more-is-never-enough-mite attacks and we are suddenly unable to keep up monthly payments of …more. Mite attacks can be so very subtle we can be clueless to the wilting. Help must arrive as soon as the mites become recognizable so God can intervene before they are able to consume more than they already have. We can gain a heart of wisdom by listening to advice and accepting instruction from those around us who, after close inspection, recognize mites have begun destruction. Wise people “… listen and add to their learning, and … the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5, NIV).
Once discovered it takes quick action to remove the mites before they destroy you.
When my friend noticed the damage on her tree, she quickly called the expert; the one she trusted would have the answers she needed to save her tree. When the Lord begins to alert us to danger lurking, as we begin to shut down and wilt, how do we respond? Do we take quick action to seek help in our recovery, or do we distance ourselves in fear, shutting ourselves off from others? At times, I’ve found myself damaged, quickly calling for the expert yet, rejected the suggestions shrugging them off with, “they don’t understand.” Other times, I’ve simply ignored the warnings and closed myself off to others. While that may seem the natural thing to do, it’s not what God intended for us to do. His heart is for us to cry out for insight, lifting our voice for understanding (Proverbs 2:1). When suffering a mite attack it is imperative we accept help from the Expert, listening to His treatment plan. And remember, “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble” (Proverbs 17:17, MSG).
Help comes gently, yet thoroughly.
In my rush to rescue those I sense have begun wilting, I’ve often appeared abrasive and found myself rejected. While my intentions may have been pure, tactfulness was lacking, leading to resentment, and in some cases, broken relationships. As I’ve sought the Lord for understanding on how to improve my efforts, He’s clarified two things for me:
1) approach and 2) timing.
It is much easier to approach gently after seeking the Lord for discernment in prayer, waiting for His instructions and His timing. When we allow God to prepare hearts – He also prepares ears to hear. The writer of Hebrews said we should “…consider how we might spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV). The King James puts it this way, “…let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” He wasn’t instructing us to provoke one another into angry quarrels or requesting we use sharp, pointed words to spur others along. He was encouraging us to motivate each other to move forward and continue on, toward love and good deeds, in our life of faith.
Before the tree was completely depleted of life, its caretaker examined it and thoroughly removed every last mite; the tree now thrives because she took the time to seek out answers. Now she will continue to enjoy delicious fruit from her lemon tree. A child of God is like a tree and we need to remember, “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17, AMP)..
To bear good fruit we must remain:
Be clearheaded, allowing our
to thoroughly examine every part of our innermost heart. Let’s make sure we are thriving so we are able to offer good fruit others will enjoy.