A Spiritual Lesson from the World’s Oldest Tree

Several years ago I visited the Greek island of Crete where I saw what is considered the oldest tree on earth—an olive tree. It’s estimated to be 3,000 years old and is still producing olives.

Later, Phyllis, my wife, and I visited the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem where we saw olive trees believed to have been there when Jesus prayed on the night before he was crucified.

One reason olive trees live so long is that they are resilient as well as drought, disease, and bug resistant. Another reason olive trees have been around so long is that people have cared for them because the olive has so many practical uses. Archeologists tell us that for over 5,000 years olives have been used for food, medicine, fuel, lighting, washing, and religious ceremonies.

In ancient times, people who planted olive trees did not expect instant gratification. They knew the young plant would take years to produce a significant amount of fruit. But, they knew generations of their family members would benefit from their planting and nurturing.

Don’t buy an olive tree if you want quick results. A few years ago Phyllis and I potted a tiny olive tree and have nurtured it for several years now. We haven’t yet seen the first olive, but we didn’t expect to see any this soon. The lady who owned the olive grove where we bought the seedling told us it would take several years before the tree would have its first fruit.

This week we gave that potted olive tree to our daughter and her family to plant in their yard. Once the young tree’s roots are freed of that pot and have room to spread out and grow, we should see olives before long.

We expect generations of our family members will enjoy olives from that now young tree and maybe some of our relatives will remember those of us who started it on its journey.

In a way, every tree we plant and every other act we do during our brief time on earth is seed planting. We, who look at our earthly life as a brief journey compared to our eternity with God, see all our efforts now as investments in our eternal home and in the eternal lives of generations to come.

The Bible says, “What is sown is perishable, but what is raised is imperishable; what is sown is contemptible but what is raised is glorious; what is sown is weak, but what is raised is powerful; what is sown is a natural body, and what is raised is a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.

During your lifetime, you may not see the fruit of the good and faithful deeds you are doing but remember, no tree planted is wasted. Let’s keep planting all kinds of spiritual trees and leave the fruits up to God.

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Bill Nichols

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