by Peter van Gorder
When we lack faith, we miss miracles that are trying to be delivered to us. Life is a lot about having the faith to see possibilities that others might overlook. Take apple seeds for example. Most people throw away the core and seeds as worthless, but someone with faith as small as that seed might see in them a world of opportunity.
When His disciples were frustrated that they were unable to get rid of a bad spirit, Jesus told them that they were ineffectual because of their unbelief. When they asked Him to increase their faith He told them, “Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as an apple seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20.
“Hey, wait a minute!” some of you Bible scholars out there might complain, “Jesus said mustard seed, not apple seed.” Right, excuse me for taking liberties, but the point he was trying to make was that if we just have a little bit of faith we can accomplish a lot – even move mountains! And that was before the invention of dynamite or huge dumper trucks to blast and haul mountains. I mention apple seeds I guess because I haven’t seen many mustard trees growing.
Behind my house though is an old and venerable apple tree. Come August the grass below is full of apples – most of them with a worm or two squiggling about, as we don’t use pesticides. The majority are only fit for the compost, but cut out the bad bits before the worm has gotten too comfortable, slice and chop them and you can make a fantastic apple pie.
This brings me to one of my favorite examples of a man who had a lot of faith to see opportunities in small possibilities. I am talking about John Chapman, affectionately known as Johnny Appleseed. Much legend abounds concerning this American folk hero, but there is enough truth about his life to warrant a whopping good tale!
Johnny Appleseed lived from 1774 – 1845 and came from the area of my home town- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He collected the discarded apple seeds from the apple cider mills, then cleaned and dried them in preparation for planting. He would put them in a pouch and set off to the pioneer areas out west that were just being settled at that time. He planted apple nurseries with his seeds and nurtured them until they were saplings; big enough to sell or barter for clothes and other items. I suppose this was the reason his clothes always looked way too big for him.
With a pot on his head, this barefoot Bible Believer was a welcome blessing to the settlers he visited. They invited him into their homes, glad to hear news from the places Johnny had just been to and the stories he had to tell. He also was a kind of mobile lending library because he had his Bible divided up into sections and would leave one book with a settler home and then exchange it for another book when he passed through that same way again.
Friends with the Native Americans who lived in that area, Johnny tried to be an ambassador of goodwill and a peacemaker, but when he heard that an attack was planned, he ran 30 miles to the pioneer settlement to warn them, thereby saving many lives.
Though apple trees grown from seeds are seldom sweet, the apples Johnny grew were in much demand for apple cider, to mark land boundaries, and as a food preservative.
Like Johnny we can grab ahold of the opportunities that come our way. When the doors or windows of possibilities open to us, we can enter in and partake of the blessings that God has for us and in the lives of others that we touch. Realizing an opportunity is just the first step and then comes all the steps that follow to bring that possibility to fruition – not unlike the many challenges Johnny faced nurturing apple trees from seeds.