Christian, Faith

When Orange Trees Don’t Grow Oranges

When we bought our home 12 years ago, I was excited to find out we had an orange tree in the backyard. It didn’t have any oranges on it at the time, but it wasn’t the season for bearing fruit. Even though I don’t have much of a green thumb, I wasn’t worried. I had heard how well fruit trees grow in the desert, so I figured we’d be having a tree full of oranges soon enough. When the first fruit-bearing season went by with nothing, I thought I better do a little studying. I followed the guidelines for watering, fertilizing, and pruning and waited patiently for the next season. Still nothing. Year after year, it grew in size and blessed us with it’s sweet-smelling blossoms, but still no fruit. In the course of 12 years, we’ve seen maybe a handful of oranges, but none of them were edible.

During the many years of caring and fussing over our orange tree, I had noticed a branch coming out from the bottom that didn’t look like the others. It was slightly lighter in color, and the leaves were very different. I thought it was so odd, so I just kept watching it. Every year it grew bigger and thicker. One branch turned into many branches, all with plenty of leaves. While the mysterious new branches grew, I noticed the orange tree seemed to be shrinking. I’ve watched it happen slowly over these last 12 years, but now our orange tree has dwindled in size and there is an entirely different tree towering over it.

The orange tree is on the left. The mysterious other tree growing on the right side.

Here’s a closer look at the bottom. Two different trees coming out of the same hole in the ground.

I’ve enjoyed watching this process all these years, but it all came to a climax a few weeks ago when I noticed LOADS of small green fruit all over the second tree! It seemed especially odd since it was fall (who knew fruit trees could produce fruit in the fall?!) I had to investigate. For the first time, I realized the branches on our ‘new’ tree had giant spikes on the branches (the orange tree has rose-like thorns, but these were long and pointy). I plucked off the little green fruit and beheld…a lime. Our surprise tree turned out to be full of limes!


“This is so weird,” I thought. Nary an orange in 12 years, but now we have a budding tree full of limes instead. Right out of the same hole in the ground. So weird. But so cool.

Surely I could pull some spiritual truth out of this. There are many verses about reaping, sowing, planting, harvesting, and bearing fruit. There’s a whole chapter in Romans about the Gentiles being ‘grafted’ into God’s family. Jesus talks of vines and branches. Maybe right now, you are thinking of a spiritual application for your own life. But for me, the truth that’s making me grin from ear to ear is the mysterious nature of our Creator. I said it about the tree, and I believe the same about our awesome God: I don’t know how this works; I just know it’s cool and I love it.

I could dig up the root system, investigate it, and ask experts about how it could happen. I could see the inside or hear the tale of those first seedlings and how they got there. But for some reason, it would ruin the mystery for me. The very Scripture I used for my blog’s namesake, Intertwined, says it so perfectly… “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” Colossians 2:2

I love the mystery of our two trees, because God made it happen. And I love God, because I am mysteriously bound to Him. It encourages me. I have complete confidence in it. We are knit together. Intertwined. Little ol’ me and Christ Himself. It makes no sense. But it is cool. And life-changing.

What are some mysteries in nature that make you think of God? Or what did you think of seeing the two trees grow together? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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