By Melissa McLaughlin
It was a small and simple surprise, but my heart leaped for joy at the sight! My husband had snapped a twig off our old apple tree and placed it in a vase on the kitchen table. Though half of the tree was now dead, a few branches still pulsed with life, glowing with tender white apple blossoms. A sight for sore eyes. Like the spring thaw after a long winter season, so my heart was waiting for the warmth of hope amidst this long stretch of global illness.
A sign of new life, new hope, new seasons. Such a wonderful gift wrapped in the colors of God’s own choosing.
A smile lit my face as I thanked my husband for his thoughtfulness. His response caught me off guard.
“It’s the last apple blossom,” he remarked quietly.
“What do you mean?” I asked, a tinge of sadness seeping through my voice.
“Since the tree is almost dead, this is the last spring before I cut down what still remains,” he explained gently.
The last apple blossom. Somehow those words sounded heavy in my heart. A flood of memories washed over me.
My mind slipped back to decades past when we first bought this house. We thanked God for leading us to this home, as we had searched diligently for something that would provide a safe area for our children to grow and play together as a family. This home and property fit the bill to a tee.
A neighborhood with quiet streets, brimming with other children and our own sweet home with a small backyard adjacent to the elementary school our children would attend. A parent’s dream come true. The land in the surrounding area had once been an old farm and the back edge of our property contained one of the last vestiges of that era, an old apple tree.
In my mind’s eye, I saw our young children skipping barefoot through the grass, soaring high on the swing set, building castles in the sandbox, running through the sprinkler, collecting bugs and relaxing on a blanket imagining fanciful scenes in the clouds.
In earlier years, the apple tree still offered a few runty, hard, green apples, which we observed with wonder and delight. We even picked them and tried to take a small bite here and there. Since the tree was long past its prime, the apples were more for sport than food. They made great backyard baseballs!
As the apple tree began to die off bit by bit, a pair of squirrels made a nest in its deadened trunk and gave birth to a family of baby squirrels there. What a gift to witness the cooing of baby squirrels! Even in its death, this old apple tree was a blessing.
All too soon, the kids were driving, working and busy with their own lives.
And so, the last apple blossom is a little bittersweet. It reminds me of the precious blessings of our golden family years. Only to be enjoyed now in memories. It reminds me of how quickly the time has passed and cannot be reclaimed. It reminds me that this gift of life does not last forever.
By God’s tender grace, the memory of a quote I had recently read fluttered through fog that had descended. I couldn’t remember the author or the exact wording, but I recalled something along these lines: “Real faith is when we can thank God for blessings we once had but have no more and when we can thank God for the blessings we will one day have but do not have yet.”
As the Holy Spirit cast this new light on the last apple blossom, there was a lifting in my spirit. I began to thank God for all these blessed moments we shared in the backyard with our children. How sacred, how lovely, how beautiful.
And I began to thank God for blessings yet to be. Days when we would build new memories with our family. Praying we could help each other grow in Christ, for these blessings are eternal. Knowing that our dear Savior has prepared a place in heaven for all who believe in Him. A place where there will be no more tears or sorrow or pain.
We may not have these blessings yet, but by faith, they can bring us joy even now.
God took a tiny apple blossom from a fading apple tree to teach me a new lesson. Pause and thank God for blessings past, present AND future. As we remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past, we are confident of His faithfulness to fulfill every promise He has made for our future. His Word will stand. His promises will come to pass.
When you see the last apple blossom of your life, I pray it will remind you of blessings from the past and at the same time give you a vision of blessings yet to come. Thank God, because of Jesus there is always joy, even in the waiting.
Hebrews 11:1-2 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Hebrews 11:13 – All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 12:1-3 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
P.S. After a long search, I found the original quote. Though it is not exactly as I remembered, it is thoughtful and encouraging. “Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.” A.W. Tozer