The Christian Fiction Review Blog is proud to tour NOT FAR FROM THE TREE, by Ruth Smith Meyer. What's it about? Well, perhaps the best way of explaining this would be to those who have read the book or seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. In that story a woman shares her past with a younger woman that happens to be visiting. The story becomes part what is going on between the aging woman and they younger woman and part what had made the older such an extraordinary person. The difference between Fried Green Tomatoes and Not Far From the Tree is that Ruth Smith Meyer's story is much better.
What does that title mean? I'm always interested in titles. Well, in this one we find Ellie Kurt, Rina's mother, telling her daughter some things about herself she really doesn't want to admit. She shares with her how she was a rebellious and independent young lady in her time. Now God has "blessed" her with a daughter who is so much like her that she exclaims, "The apple hasn't fallen far from the tree." And this is where we get the title from. Meyer expands on that, however, and we find that Rina's children, even grand children, haven't fallen far from the tree either. In this case it's good, because Rina has provided them with a good strong example of having a relationship with the Living God, just as her mother had done for her.
God plants us in His garden and looks for us to bear fruit unto Him. All too often we are just as rebellious as young Rina, and many times this follows us well into adulthood. Yet God is patient. He knows that without Him we are nothing, so He keeps working with us, prodding us, working the soil. He sends people to speak the Word to us so that faith may come alive in us and we might come to Him and bear fruit. However long it takes God is patient. For it's the process and how we handle it that He is more concerned with rather than what we do or do not do. Yes He wants us to learn to be obedient, to be disciplined. He wants us to walk in love, to show patience and gentleness, kindness, mercy and self-control, but He also knows what struggles we have to deal with. He knows all about us and has know that since before He made the world. So rather than get all bent out of shape when we don't "snap to it" when we hear the Truth the first time, He remains patient. He leads us through green pastures, by still waters, through dark places too. It is the process, the journey that is most important to Him. Some, Jesus tells us, will play the game and make believe we have gone on this journey only to hear Him say, "Sorry, I never knew you." Others will get it right the first time and bear much fruit. Still others will take a long time to work out their salvation. Yet they still bear fruit, and that fruit is precious, but not as precious as the time we spent with Him on our journey home. It never was about being perfect, but about letting His perfection work in us. What a wonderful God we serve. He wants us to have a legacy like Rina, to be able to look back and see all the good things He has brought into our lives, then handed them down to our children too. That is what pleases Him.
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