May 11, 2010
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Psalm 52:8
This is the second in a series. To read the first part of this entry, click here.
You may wonder why it has taken me to a long time to write something with substance here. So many reasons exist, but I’ll share just one with you. I’ve known that writing this portion will make me cry.
Before my tears begin, I’d like us to look more closely at the green olive tree’s awesome fruit. The beautiful olive decided to “go green” long before this world had issues with energy, pollution, and other environmental concerns. Boasting more than beauty, an olive has taste appeal, a subtle but delicious aroma, and some other wonderful properties worthy of discussion.
Just think about what happens when an olive is pressed, squeezed, or crushed. Instead of being destroyed, the green olive produces an oil that helps us humans thrive. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, a healthier type of fat that can lower the risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels in an individual’s blood.
A fountain of health, olive oil was popular with the Greeks and Romans of Jesus’ time. Olive oil was used to treat open wounds, insect bites, headaches, to counteract poisons and to aid stomach and digestive problems. These ancient civilizations also applied olive oil to the body before bathing (as a soap) and then again afterward to moisturize the skin. It forms a barrier against dirt and the harmful effects of the sun.
Today we believe olive oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease because it is full of antioxidants and contains Vitamin E. This fabulous oil is known to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, making it even more tempting to serve and consume this food with Italian herbs. Every dipped your bread in that?
Traditionally olive oil is extracted through a grinding process that is accomplished with mill stones. Today they are ground in steel drums. In both cases, a paste forms and pressed.
To get to the really good stuff, the olive must be crushed. It loses its shape and firmness. If olives could talk, I wonder if they would tell us how much it hurts as their oil is extracted. We cannot even see a trace of the fruit by the time the oil makes it into the bottle and onto our table. If it could be seen, then we wouldn’t have the expensive and highly regarded “extra virgin” oil.
I think we humans have much in common with olives. Refinement isn’t easy, and being ground and crushed hurts terribly. And who wants to lose their firmness or beauty? The very process that leads to a product containing helpful properties is the same process that causes the young but ripe olive to be destroyed.
I don’t know if it is possible for us humans to bear the fruit of the Spirit if we haven’t been ground or crushed a little or if we haven’t lost something we that once was part of our identity. It’s easy to admire people whose strong relationships with the Lord are apparent. We all know these blessed saints; they have words of healing at their fingertips. But would we want what they have if we had watched them being crushed, ground, and filtered?
If we want the Lord to load us with spiritual antioxidants and healing properties, we’re going to lose something, part of our identity. To have more of Jesus and less of us is going to hurt. We may experience something that will help us relate to the olives: it could be that no one might notice our pain.
Have you read With Great Mercy?