Parable of the almond tree

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The Spice Box

by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel –

Sharon Robertson, Lieutenant Colonel

A drive through the northern Sacramento valley is breath-taking this time of year. In February the almond groves are come into full bloom: white, with a blush of pink, the millions of trees seem to glow in the bright sunlight. Of the many varieties of nut and fruit trees grown in this area, almonds are the first to bloom after the winter dormancy, and a welcome sight it is. Interestingly, the Hebrew name for the almond tree is shaaqueed, which may be translated as “wakeful,” or “vigilant,” in recognition of this very quality. In speaking to Jeremiah, God uses an almond branch to remind him that God is alert and watching what is happening to his people (Jeremiah 1:11).

The almond growers in our area have taken some traumatic hits in last couple of years, due to the very qualities that set the almond apart from other orchard crops in the valley. A couple of years ago we had an unseasonably warm January, teasing the almonds into blossoming a month early. February followed with hard frosts, high winds and rains, and March with unusually heavy rains, causing heavy damage to the almond crops. January of this year was even worse. Record high winds raged unchecked through the valley. While many orchards of various kinds lost trees, the almonds were particularly vulnerable. Their root systems are very shallow. Nearly half a million were destroyed or mortally damaged—and estimated 15 percent of the almond trees. As you drive you can see single trees, groups of trees, whole rows, even whole orchards—flattened.

The remainder are in bloom, a little late, but beautiful.

God can teach us a great deal through the parable of the almond tree. As Jeremiah was reminded of God’s eternal vigilance, so I have been reminded of how we, ourselves, share some of the qualities that make the almond tree so very vulnerable. Like the almond, we blossom when conditions are good, but under adverse conditions we fail. Like the almond, if our roots in Christ are shallow, we fall before the storms of life. But unlike the almond tree, we have a choice.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish
(Psalm 1, NIV).

The Christian’s ability to withstand the storm is in direct ratio to the depth to which his roots are established in the Word of God. It is through his Word that God is able to nurture and sustain us. It is through his Word that we are able to go beyond feelings to convictions. Because we study to be rooted in his Word, the Comforter is enabled to “bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26) in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise. Because we study to be rooted in his Word, we are able to testify of him with confidence, our words based not on feelings alone, but upon the truth revealed in his Word.

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