I grew up in a small mill village, which some might today regard as an idyllic childhood. We were free to roam in complete safety in the streets, vast parkland and surrounding countryside and get up to all sorts of tricks. My mother used to tell people that I was ‘such a good boy!’ Little did she know!
One day we were playing on the outskirts of the village. In the middle of the field we discovered a scruffy apple tree and there on a high branch was just one apple. I was dared to climb up and get it and not to be outdone I started to clamber up, cheered on by my friends. It was higher than I thought and felt a bit unnerved as I gingerly wrapped my legs around the branch. I really felt out on a limb as I inched my way along the bough, which was beginning to bend. Just then the farmer appeared, striding across the field. He looked angry! The other boys ran off, but I had my eye on that apple. Just as I grabbed it the branch broke and I fell to the ground on my stomach, winding myself. The farmer was fast approaching, so I ran off, but forgot the secret way across the boggy stream and was soon up to my knees, with the farmer standing on the edge, waving his stick. I extricated myself and made my way home wondering what my mother would say about the state of my shoes and socks.
I can look back now and see how significant that episode was. As a child I had a sense of adventure that somehow, over the responsibilities, trials and pressures of my adult years got dimmed. However God, in His infinite love and wisdom saw into my heart and wasn’t going to let it stay that way. He didn’t want me to stay in my ‘comfortable nest,’ so He allowed circumstances to come along to bump start me into ‘risky living!’ Whether it was trying to find my way through very trying circumstances or in stepping out on a project that was on my heart, I have often found myself out on a limb. It was fine at first, especially with friend’s encouragement, but as the going got tough that support tended to evaporate. I then felt all alone, going where I hadn’t been before – into the unknown. Holding onto that branch was scary, even frightening. I looked behind, but could see there was no going back. I looked down, but that made me feel panicky, so I fixed my gaze on that apple and somehow, in a way I don’t understand I finally had my hands on that fruit – and sometimes I didn’t!
I believe God wants us out on a limb, trusting in him. We may feel unsafe out on the ‘branch,’ but remember it is connected to the solid dependable tree of life. We may even fall, but we ‘fall up’ into His arms and in our journey we will have moved on, ready for the next time. He will never ever let us down.
Let’s go for that golden apple.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you;” New International Version