My grandpa lived in Orange Grove, Western Australia, and had a navel orange tree growing--or should I say, struggling to grow--on his property. After seven years of watching this poor tree struggling to stay alive, Grandpa was ready to get rid of it. It hadn't even grown an inch! He offered the tree to Dad to see if he would have any luck with it, otherwise out it would go.
Almost as soon as Dad planted the tree on our property, it started to grow. The tree was flourishing just nicely when our goats--Danny and Kaye--managed one of their many "escapes from Alcatraz," broke free of their chains and discovered just how tasty navel orange trees can be. They managed to strip all the leaves off the tree and eat its lower branches. The poor tree was back to "square one."
Dad found another way to "out-fox" the goats and kept them securely tethered for quite a few months--long enough, at least, for the little orange tree to grow new leaves and further increase in size.
But, true to form, the goats eventually managed to break free of their chains and guess where they headed first--that tasty orange tree. Once again, the tree was stripped bare of all leaves and eaten back.
Around this time, the Gosnells Adventist church was promoting "investment" projects, where the members could raise money to assist the missionaries in the Pacific islands. This gave Mum and Dad the idea of dedicating the navel orange tree to God, and any money that they raised from the sale of its fruit would be their investment project.
We knew the tree had growing potential and, after the dedication, it grew in leaps and bounds. Of course, not to be outdone by being kept tied to their tether, Danny and Kaye--the Houdinis of goats-- managed to make their escape again. They headed straight for the orange tree. The only difference this time was they walked straight past the tree, with not so much as a nibble as they went past. All they left behind were the drag marks of the chains in the sand near the tree.
The navel tree grew into a huge tree that bore heaps and heaps of the biggest, juiciest navel oranges you ever did taste. To this day, I still have not eaten a navel orange that beats those from the tree dedicated to God by Mum and Dad. Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit. Jeremiah 17:7, 8. Lyn Price is departmental assistant to the stewardship department of the South Pacific Division, based in Wahroonga, New South Wales.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God