Mr. Odoh after each day’s work looked forward to his home. When someone alerted him that the property close to Kumaro dam was for sale, he put together his savings and bought the property. This is one purchase that he has convinced himself that he would never regret.
As soon as he got home, ate, he would head to the balcony appreciating the beauty of God’s creation around him; the trees, flowers, birds and not to forget the cool healthy fresh air.
He cherished the time he spent with his family especially the first son. Of course, this day was not left out. Richard joined him at the balcony as usual. This time Richard had a serious issue bothering him that he wanted to discuss. It must have been so serious that he did not greet his father but went straight to ask him a question. “Dad, what did Paul mean when he said that he presses towards the goal for the prize of the high call of God in Christ Jesus?”(Phil 3: 14, NKJV)
Whenever Richard came with such questions, it thrilled his father greatly. It assured him of his son’s hunger for God.
Mr. Odoh took a deep breath and began with an illustration;
“Take a look at those palm trees. You were small when we planted them. I don’t know if you can remember. Take one of them for instance; we dug a hole, added manure, placed the palm shoot and then covered it with soil and leaves. Initially we were watering it, tried to shield it from sun, kept tendering and watching over it until we were certain it could survive on its own. Since then, it has grown to the height you see, very mature. Do you know that the palm tree has an assignment from God?”
Richard looked at his father with interest, wondering what the assignment could be.
His Dad continued, “Oh yes, the palm tree has an assignment from God. And that is to provide food and shelter for man. Think about it: Is the palm tree not fulfilling that? It was planted, not for its own benefits, but for man’s benefit. It did not for one day worry about its nourishment. Its creator provided. It is focused on its assignment relentlessly. Another thing to notice is that the palm tree leaves are evergreen at all seasons. No wonder the scripture says the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. Take a look at the height; it’s appreciable. Imagine if it had a stunted growth, it may not bear fruit. Should it bear fruit, it may not be as good and fruity as it should be if it had attained the height it should.”
Richard listened to his father attentively and patiently but at the same time puzzled.
“You are wondering how the palm tree relates to the high call?” asked his father. Richard nodded.
“Before you were born, God formed you with a purpose for you to achieve here on earth. He provided the resources you would need. And now you are saved, He is making Himself and His purpose clearer to you. When you got saved, you were taught the basics of the kingdom of God. A number of contrary things you did then were pardoned as expectations from a growing child. But it is expected that as you are growing, these things should be shed off. Remember that at some point, we stopped watering and shielding the palm. Also you are expected to stand having received nourishment and training.
Having been equipped, you are not expected to remain at the growing level or stage. You are to move up to maturity stage where you are expected to be bearing fruits in and out of season like the palm tree. You know in the dry season, the leaves of a number of plants and trees dry up or you see dry leaves among the green leaves. Not so with the palm tree; so also God expects us to bear fruits – perseverance in obedience and faithfulness despite the challenges and situations we find ourselves.
God wants you to be as unique as the palm tree, standing tall amongst your contemporaries. He expects you to come to a point where you are totally sold out to Him. You are not living for your own benefits, but for God’s benefits. Trust God for the resources to achieve His purpose. You should come to a point where you start thinking like David when he said ‘who have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you?’ (Ps. 73:25 NIV)
Paul was not content with the level he found himself. He knew that there was an ultimate position God wanted him to attain. That was why he said, ‘I press toward the goal for the prize of the high call of God in Christ Jesus’
Do you know the position God wanted Paul to attain?”
“It is the position of sonship. Even now, God desires that you, Richard attain the position of sonship. Now, my son, what do you think I expect of you?” asked his father.
Richard answered, “You have always wanted me to be the best in all I do, be disciplined, be able to make the right decisions and believe that you have my interest at heart. You expect me to positively influence my environment. In fact, Dad, I can go on and on and you know, sometimes I wonder if I can meet your expectations of me”
His father replied, “You know the interesting thing about God? Whatever He expects of you, he has equipped you to attain it. God wants a son that will be a full representative, carbon image of Him here on earth. When I talk about carbon image, it is not just in appearance, but in values and attitudes. You know, in thoughts, words and actions. He wants a son who will grow from strength to strength until he appears before Him in Zion. (Ps 84:7 NIV)
A son who with others in the community (church) will all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Whole measure! Not half measure!!
Richard, don’t be content with half measure of Christ in you. Desire for more of Christ, strongly and desperately desire for the whole measure! Attain your position in Christ!!”
“Son, are you willing, like the palm tree to focus relentlessly on attaining this position?”
There was silence for a while.
Richard took a deep breath and then answered emphatically, “YES”
A good piece over all. I think you did a great job developing the palm tree idea. Some comparisons of which I never thought. Just a few suggestions to improve it, hopefully.
1. Watch out for the word “that.” I avoid it like a plague. It’s the most overused word in the English language. You used it unnecessarily three times in the first paragraph. The paragraph would read better if it were left out completely (in my opinion).
2. I usually avoid the -ing form of verbs where I can. “Were watering” could be better written “watered.” “Be bearing fruit” could be written “bear fruit.” See if you don’t like it better. By the way, I believe “fruit” is plural as well as singular and doesn’t need an “s.”
3. “Carbon image” seems like an anachronism in this day of computers and word processors. Younger readers might not know what you mean. I can’t remember the last time I saw a sheet of carbon paper. A suggestion: you could use “mirror image.”
You wrote a good story with a great theme. A little editing and it could sell, I think.