The story of George Washington gave me a fright last week, after buying my first cherry tree. This is my grand entrance into backyard fruit growing. Actually, my first tree came a few years ago when my brother in law bought one for us (peach, nectarine, and apricot all in one). I am thankful for it, but this time it was my idea and my money.
I started to think about buying a fruit tree after I heard a Gregg Harris speech. He recalled asking his son, “When is the best time to plant an apple tree?” The answer is not spring or summer or fall. The best time to plant an apple tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today.
The wisdom of planning ahead gets built into the fiber of the orchardist. Some trees take many years to give their first crop; my cherry tree will take three. Patience, foresight, and care are needed. This isn’t a get-crops-quick plan, but a plodding, pruning, watering, fertilizing, pest controlling, waiting, and then waiting some more program.
Raising children is like this. The fruit doesn’t come immediately. Many years of effort may be required before we see evidence of fruit bearing. The discipline of watering, feeding, and guarding our trees is like the discipline of nurturing, teaching, and guarding our children. Just like an orchardist must plan ahead, so the parent must plan for the future.
As I care for my tree, I know I will be tempted to think my efforts produced growth and fruit. I must be watchful and realize that only God can actually bring these results. The same holds true in the lives of my children. Ordinary dads are God’s ordinary means of nurturing and training the next generation (Ephesians 6:4), but the growth only happens by divine intervention and grace. Dads must be mindful of this. We are not to get proud when we see good fruit or discouraged when the fruit is long in coming.
The best time to plant adults is 18 years ago. My tree will serve as my reminder of this, and as a reminder that only God can make a tree.