I moved from Southern Ohio to Florida in 1988. I was in the fourth grade. It seemed so glamorous and magical at the time. We had a banana tree beside our little trailer and I thought it looked so tropical and lush. It was just a baby but we were so proud of it. I knew one day I’d be eating fruit we’d grown right there in our trailer park yard. Somehow, since then, I’ve lost some of the wonder.
When my husband and I moved into our current home, the yard was a little barren so we hired a landscaper to put in some plants that we weren’t likely to kill easily. We are not the most inspired gardeners. He put in several banana trees. I found myself complaining about them. I should focus on the green portions of the tree or the cute little bunches of bananas that grow from time to time, but instead, all I see are the brown droopy leaves bending low at the bottom of the plants. They are kind of ugly.
The noble trees are working hard to reach upward; growing fast toward the sun. They are even making precious fruit for me to enjoy and I sit and criticize and scorn them thinking my yard looks more like a mess than a tropical paradise. I could go tend them and clean up the area a little, but that demands more effort than I care to proffer so I choose the path of least resistance, annoyance.
Francis Frangipane mentioned this critical tendency recently when he said, “True, when I first see the need, typically, my flesh reacts with criticism. But if I repent of just finding fault – if I pray and submit myself to Christ’s heart – I soon discover there are many ways for me to participate in redeeming this situation, all of which fuel my spiritual growth. Indeed, by approaching the area of need with Christ’s redemptive heart, the “flawed reality” I initially criticized ultimately became the land of my anointing.”
I’ve known those who say they will never go to church because the church is full of hypocrites. And maybe they are right. Maybe we are all goofy looking banana trees reaching for the sun as the old sinful nature dies off and dangles, brown and ugly. Thankfully, God looks down from above and sees life and delights in all of us fruity folks. Still I can’t help but wonder what the body of Christ could do if we would take that child like perspective that sees the tree as magical, lush, tropical and full of wonder. What if we stopped criticizing one another and started participating in redeeming the situation? What if we pushed aside the urge to criticize and began reacting to annoyance first with prayer? What would we look like if we chose love? I, for one, am planning to find out.