It seemed like family fun. Bundled in warm clothes, we headed off to a local apple orchard to run along grass aisles, climb trees, and choose fruit. Each child reached and stretched and plucked that perfect fruit. They carried their bags, full to overflowing, from tree to tree while dreaming of what was to come.
Apple pie. Apple sauce. Apple bread, apples and dip, apple oatmeal cookies, apple slab. We could almost smell it as we drove on home. But my mind was on a greater lesson. Back at home, the fruit washed and readied it, I held in front of my four children one beautiful apple.
“How many apples do I have in my hand?” I asked. Wondering about the obvious question, they looked and then answered, “One.”
“Hmmm,” I continued. “One apple, yes. But I wonder about the parts.” I grabbed a knife and sliced the fruit through, top to bottom, laying the halves side-by-side. Little hands reached out, touching the apple, smelling the fragrance, stroking the peel. “How many parts does this one apple have?” I asked.
“I see the peel and the white part and the seeds,” my oldest spoke for them all. Three parts. One apple. A lesson to come because all of creation points back to it's Creator.
With my children focused on the fruit in front of them, I began to explain my point. These parts are all pieces of a whole and all have special jobs. The peel protects the fruit from the elements so that it stays fresh and healthy. The fruit nourishes us. The seeds provide for new life, making it possible for another apple tree to grow and more fruit to abound. Three parts, one whole.
It seemed like it was just for fun. Like apple picking as a family was about nothing more than fruit. But I knew that helping them to understand that one thing can have separate parts and still just be one thing can help them to comprehend something that theologians have studied for many, many years. I wanted them to catch a glimpse of the trinity of God.
I wanted to help my children to see:
Making these faith conversations a part of our every day life, allows faith to percolate through every aspect of the home. We can say with the psalmist, "Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Psalm 34:1). In teaching truth we guide our little ones to see God.
And then, one of my little ones spoke. “Momma, see… it’s kinda like God.” I smiled.
“See, Momma, see how we need protection and we need to grow and we need a new life too. See how the apple is like God? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! ”
I see, baby boy. I see.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra