A couple of weeks ago Jen, Everett and I went apple picking. It was a wonderful fall day to spend in an orchard and we were enjoying time together as a family, picking (and eating) lots of delicious fruit. It was about 20 minutes in when I saw it: the perfect McIntosh apple. ou know, the kind of fruit that you immediately know needs to be in your belly. Pronto. High up on a tree was this brilliant red, perfectly round, noticeably large, and as far as I could see, flawless apple. So I put down my bag, scaled the lower part of the tree and bent the limb juuust far enough so I could reach my prize. I exerted far more effort than one should in order to pick an apple, but my apple was worth it.

Success! I grabbed a hold of that exquisite red fruit, pulled it off the tree and was about to take the satisfying bite of sweet, sweet victory. But as I turned the apple over to bite down I saw it: rotten. Perfectly hidden on the opposite side of the apple so I couldn’t see was brown, decaying, putrid skin.  What I had held in such high regard moments earlier was nothing but an empty disappointment. I was left unsatisfied.

In the grand scheme of things one apple is quite trivial, barely worth mentioning. But how many times do we desire something (sometimes to the point of idolizing it!) only to find ourselves empty and unfulfilled upon obtaining it? A new job that ends up bringing new challenges, new living arrangements that disappoint, a new car that quickly loses its showroom luster, new toys quickly forgotten… The world is littered with such bad apples.
But there is One who doesn’t disappoint, who will never fail us:

  • Hebrews 13:5, God tells us “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.”
  • Moses delivers the same message to the Isrealites, who are about to enter Canaan in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • Romans 8:28 states “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
  • Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 55:12: the list goes on and on with examples of God’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

The key is our hearts. The passage from Hebrews follows a warning to keep our lives free from the love of money. Moses’ covenental message was delivered to a repentant group of Isrealites who had come out of wandering the desert as punishment for hard hearts. And Romans 8:28 cites that everything works together for the good of “those who love God”. The fact is we cannot keep ourselves open to receiving the blessings God has for us if our hearts’ desires are for worldly objects and pursuits. There just isn’t room for both. So, brothers and sisters, I ask: are we truly following after Christ? Or are we merely chasing bad apples? If the answer is the former, then we can be fulfilled knowing the Lord our God is with us today, tomorrow, and forever.

Brian Mercer recently joined the Diaconate and has been a member of GRC since 2017.