Jesus is Like a Nut

Derek Ramsey, Wikimedia Commons
Derek Ramsey, Wikimedia Commons

My brother and I loved playing in the backyard of our childhood home, back in the days when kids enjoyed the outdoors. Probably the single most irksome thing about our wonderland was Mrs. Modell’s black walnut tree hanging overhead. The tree was huge and jutted across a third of our yard. It wasn’t so much the tree we hated, but those troublesome walnuts.

Throughout spring and summer the tree grows its fruit, or the nut and seed. The nut at this stage is encased in a lime green husk that’s hard as a baseball. They gradually grow larger and resemble clusters of lemons or green apples. When they fell early (or we knocked them from the tree), we learned to let them alone because they left a foul scent on our hands.

Auntie G, Flickr
Auntie G, Flickr

In autumn the husk softens as it ripens and then falls to the ground. This is when the backyard became a little less enjoyable for us, for a number of reasons. The old car that sat under the tree made sure we always knew when the husks fell…every single time. Then, they rot and change from greenish-yellow in color to dark brown or black; and the liquefied mush stains anything it touches. Inside that mess is a tough, corrugated nut that looks like a round sea coral.

My brother and I usually didn’t take the time to clear away the husks before mowing the yard, so whole or sharp pieces of nut were always a threat to our bare feet as we ran about. It was only when we became teens that we began to harvest the nuts for our mom and her friends. Drying out and removing the rotted husks required patience unless we were prepared to dive in and get dirty.

O, Taste and See!

That memory causes me to reflect on Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”—not in the sense of any effort I put into harvesting those nuts. Instead, I notice the parallel of the subject: the goal…here the nut and fruit of the tree.

AnnaKika, Flickr
Removed husks AnnaKika, Flickr

My brother and I learned that there was a useful and tasty goodness within those husks that made all that seasonal drama worthwhile, albeit in our yard and not on a farm. It was why the squirrels waited patiently as the seed ripened.

Similarly, living our lives with Christ in mind is like putting up with the annoying and unpleasant aspects of those husks knowing that something wonderful abides. Jesus compares the kingdom to a man who discovers treasure in a field, hides it again, and then quickly buys the field (Matt. 13:44). That field may have been the most miserable boondocks to him until then; but finding that treasure changed everything.

The anthem “Shout to the Lord” ends with a great affirmation: “Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.” Do you believe that? That’s where I stand. Christ is all the world to me—even if it means muck, stinky hands, and the constant thud of husks hitting the ground.

11 thoughts on “Jesus is Like a Nut

  1. Okay, this made me think, if when working through the husk to get to the nut, we get stained…likewise, our time abiding and seeking stains us with Jesus. So there’s great value in this process. Something we don’t get by simply buying “shelled walnuts,” if you will.
    Btw, I never understood why people put walnut trees in their yard. I can understand in a field or away from the yard. We have them all over the place here. But I do love eating walnuts. 🙂

    • Okay…I like that analogy! As Peter would say, “Stain me from my head to my feet, Lord!” Wish I were a business-minded tike back then. I can see how I would’ve made money from that tree!

    • I’d like to try that flavor ice cream. And talk about a pain! My brother and I knew how to use that fruit as weapons, too! 😉 So thoughtful of you to post while you’re “on the field.”

      • Michael, I have filled in tractor ruts in the mud during winter with them. They are tough. Lol. I have a few minute break so looking at some posts. Have a great one!!!

  2. Wonderful post, but I must confess: I love Jesus, but detest black walnuts. My aunts had a tree and so they ended up in plenty baked goods. That stain also ended up on much of my clothing. Nothing gets that mess out! Haha!

    • Yep, like John’s book to eat: sweet but bitter. Baking is about the best thing for them because no one probably cares to eat them like the regular walnuts. Cheers, Lisa!

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