You are looking at a picture of an olive tree, a very old olive tree, located in Ithaca, Greece. I got to thinking about the olive tree yesterday, as it relates to human frustration, remembering something I’d heard in a sermon once. Researching olive trees a little bit, I confirmed what I remembered as being true.
The tree in this picture is claimed to be about 1500 years old. Tree-ring analysis and other scientific means/studies have determined trees in Crete, Croatia and the Galilee region of Israel to be up to 3,000 years old, and still bearing fruit. It seems that, though these trees have a mighty endurance, they achieve their basic fullness of structure within the first 7 years (link). So, compared to a millennium or two’s worth of slooooow growth, it might be said that the olive tree’s initial growth spurt is fast. You know how you might get a burst of inspiration, a jolt of energy and Varoom!! you’re off and runnin’ ! Then, you fall flat. Dudsville. Wha’ happened? You need the Energizer bunny! After that auspicious beginning, that opening trumpet blast, it seems like you’ve run into a brick wall and you are goin’ nowhere.
That’s how the olive tree must feel.
My intention here is to encourage those of you who feel that you are making no progress. Your progress may just be indiscernible at the moment. Not all activity is visible activity. Unless the temperature dips, or your face is pressed against glass, you don’t see your breath, but it’s there. Although you can hear the wind, and see leaves rustle in it, you don’t see wind the wind itself. But it’s there. Under normal circumstances, apart from specialized technology, we don’t see rain forming, we see it when it has already formed and falls on our heads! (These may not be the best analogies, but I think I’m making my point…I hope! )
In the case of the olive tree, it seems that a prolonged developmental process yields monumental strength and endurance. “The trees survive and fruit well even with considerable neglect.” They last ! Olive trees are tenacious, also, in the sense that, when damaged, they easily sprout new growth (link). Self-healing, you might say. And the olive oil produced from the fruit of these trees is one of the most healthful, soothing, beneficial elements found in nature. All in all, the infinitesimally slow growth activity of this tree proves most redemptive.
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Matt. 13:33)
A preacher once pointed out that we don’t see the leaven spreading throughout the dough, just as the spreading of the kingdom of heaven is not immediately apparent, according to these words of Jesus Christ. We’re talking invisibility here! So, when you keep at it and keep at it, and yes, you’re still keeping at it and you don’t see results, think of the olive tree, think of the leaven. Who knows but that what you aren’t yet seeing manifested is your part in the spreading of the Kingdom.