Faith and Family

Jones: When God breaks out in an apple tree

By Lynn Jones

Spring has officially begun. The word “spring” was attached to this season of the year because it is the time of the year when living things begin to “spring” to life. Since things have been brown and inert for so long, when they start greening up and springing up, I always notice. In fact, when it comes to spring, I’m like the mother whose son said of her, “It’s as hard to slip something past my mother as it is to slip a sunrise past a rooster.” It’s hard to slip spring past me.

So I’ve been noticing and appreciating all the signs of spring that have been so generously bestowed upon us by God. The daffodils, tulips, Bradford pears, forsythia, quince, azaleas, and all the other harbingers of spring have been celebrated as they have made their appearance. A little couplet by St. John Gogarty has been running through my mind a lot this spring. The verse declares: “What can we say but ‘glory be,’/ When God breaks out in an apple tree?” Isn’t it amazing how God breaks out in something like an apple tree?

Moses was walking along on the backside of the desert of Midian when God broke out in a bush. I’m not sure what season of the year it was. All that we know is that He didn’t break out in flowers; He broke out in flames. Moses saw the bush that burned and burned but was not consumed. He turned aside to see, and when he turned aside to see, God spoke to him from the bush. Moses discovered that God was not confined to some distant holy place or to some sacred day. Here was God making an unscheduled appearance in the middle of the routines of life. It would have been a tragedy had Moses failed to turn aside to encounter Him that day.

A Sunday School teacher was showing her children some objects from nature and talking to them about God’s handiwork. She pointed to a leaf that was delicately veined and said, “God made this leaf.” One of her students said, “You mean He was here and I missed Him?” The tragedy is that we often do miss Him. We are preoccupied by many other things on our agenda. He may be at work all around us, but we never see Him. Our lives are infinitely impoverished if we allow the busyness and the routines of our lives to rob us of an awareness of His presence. 

One little boy wrote a letter to God. In the letter he said, “I saw the Grand Canyon last summer. Nice piece of work.” I’d say the same about the trees and flowers that surround us. Keep your eyes open and your antennae up. You may be led to exclaim, “Glory be”, when God breaks out in an apple tree.

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at

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