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A Family Outing to the Apple Orchard: The Ideal Versus the Real

In a sermon, Stewart Ruch said:

In family life and in church life, there's always a huge gap between the ideal and the real. For example, every autumn my family likes to go apple picking.

Here's the ideal day of apple picking. The leaves are golden and rusty, the sky is beautiful, and it's 75 degrees. We all pile into the van and start singing and laughing as we merrily drive to the orchard. We arrive early in the morning with plenty of time to enjoy the orchard. Surprisingly, the folks at the apple orchard say, "Today apples are free for families." So our kids guzzle apple cider and stuff themselves with apple donuts—and they don't even get a sugar high! Finally, after a perfect day at the orchard, we drive home as our children keep saying, "Wow, thanks, Mom and Dad!"

But the real day often looks like this. It's a disaster from the start. We leave at least two hours late. The apple orchard closes at 5 P.M., we're leaving at 3 P.M., and it takes an hour-and-half to get there, but I bark at everyone, "We're going, so get in the car!" We missed lunch because we were scrambling to get everything done. With blood sugar levels plummeting, my wife and I start arguing. I think it's her fault that we're leaving late; she says it's my fault. We keep arguing until the kids interrupt because now they're arguing with each other. I turn around and snap at the kids, "Knock it off! I'm arguing with your mom."

When we pull into the apple orchard, we only have thirty minutes before closing time. So we tell the kids, "Hurry up, so you can have some fun." By this time of the day all the good apples are gone, and nothing is free. The entrance fee was outrageous because they know they can rip off suburban families who are trying to pretend they're in the country for the day. When we get the kids back in the van, it's already dark. On the way home, we finally get our apples: we stop at McDonald's for an apple turnover.

Unfortunately, family life and church life aren't always ideal. That's why we have to practice love, acceptance, and forgiveness in the midst of real community among real fellow-sinners.

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