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November 11, 2004

Wild Olive of Tuscany

Tuscany, Italy

"Just as you recieved Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, standing firm in the Faith and overflowing with thankfulness." ~Colossians 2:6-7

I have returned again to one of my favorite places on Earth - Tuscany. Last year about this time, I met met a farmer and his wife down the road who pastored a local congregation of evangelical believers. Giovanni and Grazie spoke great English and quickly invited me into their home to share a meal and friendship. I stayed with them for a couple of nights and helped them harvest their Olive trees along with friends and family that came in from around the country. Throughout the evening at mealtime, the dining room resonated with life and laughter and high animation as each person dramatized every phrase and story with increasing enthusiasm one more vividly then the next: each an actor competing for the stage. They shared their lives; they shared their harvest; they shared their home.

This year, my good friend Max and I set out again to the farm to be with them a couple of days during the harvest. Last Thursday, before we began the work in the morning, we sat around the table with bread and coffee and read Scripture. Of course I could not understand the words, although the spirit of our Lord was evident in the spirit of their hearts and their passion to know our Savior more. Then as we headed into the grove, Giovanni lead the way singing hymns and teaching at any opportunity. The day was full – but relaxing to me. The olives were plentiful and the views spectacular. From the top of the trees, it was dreamlike to look across the Tuscan countryside and see the small villages, and villas with columns of spruce along winding lanes, and to hear the towers chime out the toll of the passing hours.

At the end of the day, Giovanni invited us to follow him to the "special tree" in his grove. We walked deep into one corner of the olive grove until we came to a tree. We stopped and as we looked at it he asked me to describe anything that was different about this olive tree. It was obvious that both the leaves and the olive fruit were smaller in size than those on the other trees. Then he said, "Out of all my thousands of cultivated trees, this is the only wild olive tree I have. Yes – the leaves and fruit are smaller in size, and even if I graft a branch from this tree into a cultivated olive tree, the leaves will never change in size or the fruit became larger." What do you think this means?

I suddenly was reminded of Romans chapter eleven where the Gentiles are described as the wild olive. My heart was warmed as I realized how that all of Paul’s readers would have realized this to be the case that the wild olive was different in this way and the significance it held in the text of Romans eleven. Then I replied, "God is more interested in the fact that we belong to the promise and are nourished by the root of Christ than he is interested in the size of our fruit. Or maybe better said – we do not gain acceptance or approval from God based on the size of our fruit, but rather that we belong to Christ.

Giovanni explained that a grafted wild branch would flourish and grow and continue to bear fruit and be harvested along with the other fruit of that tree. What is interesting as you look out at the vast acreage of cultivated trees is that the grafted wild branch is not necessary at all. The only reason it would be engrafted in the first place is that the landowner would have chosen to do so and for no other reason than for his own good pleasure for the wild olive is not a sweet fruit and on it own its oil is bitter.

I realized myself at that moment – that I was merely a wild olive in Tuscany called to belong to God in Christ, not because I could be a great fruit-bearing branch, but simply for God's good pleasure and glory. God’s Word becomes clearer and clearer to me about His Sovereignty in my salvation, and I am overwhelmed by His love and purpose for my life – to love Him with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and love my neighbor as myself. God has called us to belong and in that flourish and grow and yes – bear fruit. But the harvest and the sweet oil of goodness and grace are ALL in the work of the Lord of the harvest.

May you be encouraged as a chosen wild olive engrafted into the promise of God’s Grace and Love.


Blogger mattharmless said...

Excellent Story.

8:04 AM  
Blogger DanCharLily said...

This is very true, and it is also perspective. We are looking at the olive for its size. Take a look at these JUMBO grapes they sell now, they look good, and I can't wait to bit into it, but then when I do, it is Bland, not very sweet, and leaves me wanting! However, when I take those smaller grapes, that in my eye, may not look as sweet, or perfect, in fact is very sweet, and, I look for the smaller, blemished grapes.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Dan Meyers said...

The fruit of the spirit is sweet regardless of the size - what is utmost is that we are abiding in the vine - the root of Jesse - the promised Christ! Thakns for dropping in Dan and Charlotte! Stay in touch!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Somehow-I'm still posting to the wrong postpage.... hope you are doing well. And have a great day!

2:44 PM  
Blogger strange-theology said...

Bro, I am very encouraged by this blog. What great truths that I would not have known from simply reading without this context. I wish I would have heard Giovanni tell this story when I was there. I love the part that said, “we do not gain acceptance or approval from God based on the size of our fruit, but rather that we belong to Christ.” It is our belonging that is important and not the size of our output for Christ. I recall your comments on the book “Wild at Heart,” and this brought to my mind a thought. That we, before our effectual call from God, were by nature a wild branch. But by the grace of God, we who were wild at heart in our sin, have now been grafted into the promises/blessings and are designed now not to grow wild but to take on the shape and characteristics of our new identity. What was once wild has now taken on the characteristics, nurture, and influence of the vine. Compared to the cultivated trees my oil may be bitter, however, it is nontheless useful. I now receive the same life-giving power that flows through all who are in Christ.
Psalm 52:8 (ESV)
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.

6:32 PM  
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1:20 AM  
Anonymous said...

I wish I was there too you must have been very blessed have a great day Dan...............Lisa :-)

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing story. I love that Giovanni is likened unto the Lord. I've never thought that about the Lord specifically when reading Romans 11.


9:34 AM  

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