A few years ago a friend gave us two satsuma plants. Even without fruit, these plants are lovely. They have glossy, dark green leaves which grace the side of our northern fence.
The first year we planted them we of course did not expect any fruit. We knew the plant was putting all its resources into building a root system.The next year we had 17 little white blossoms on one plant. The other plant, a different variety, had only a couple of blossoms. Tiny little specs of dark green oranges followed the blossoms, smaller than a pencil eraser. I was so excited...we were going to have oranges! But that was not to be. Somehow, whether by birds, or by simply falling off, the tiny oranges were gone. I was so disappointed. But the plants were healthy so we just continued to wait.
This year both plants had blossoms and both have made fruit. One plant makes bigger oranges, but has fewer of them. The other plant is prolific with small oranges. At first all the oranges were dark green. (Sounds sort of oxymoronic, doesn't it?) But slowly, very slowly, the dark oranges have been changing.
First there was just a hint of yellow in the green. Then it began to grow. After a while it seemed the oranges were changing color as we stood and watched them. Now they are mostly yellow. But yellow is not orange. They have come a long way since those tiny dark green orbs appeared, but they are not ready to eat, not yet.
One can perhaps best see the cycles of life in produce bearing plants. Plants grow, they bloom, the blooms are pollinated, a fruit appears. Then the fruit must mature to full ripeness. I must confess I am looking forward to taking my grandchildren Ewan and Evelyn out to the backyard so they can pick their own oranges. (I doubt my teenage grandchildren, Jack and Emma, will be quite as thrilled as the five and three year old.) But I must wait until the oranges are truly orange and the fruit is sweet and full of juice. There is no joy in a bitter, tart orange.
As I watch the transformation of our first crop of oranges, I can't help but look back over the transformation that has slowly happened in my own life.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all thing are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17.)
When I trusted in the Lord Jesus as my Savior, the old me "passed away" and I was made new. Just like those tiny eraser-sized oranges which were a new creation. But they weren't sweet and full of juice. They weren't ready to eat, not yet. Neither am I yet sweet and full of juice. I am not ready yet.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2.)
As we grow as Christians, the Lord is in the business of transforming us, transforming us "to the image of His Son," (Romans 8:29.) It is a process. Sometimes it seems like it is a slow process. Sometimes it seems it is a very slow process. But one day the tiny green orb of who I am will be a fully ripe Satsuma, full of sweetness and juice. Just as with me and our oranges, one day my transformation will be complete and the Lord can pick me off the vine and hold me with pride in His creation.