“Some of the branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. ‘Well,’ you may say, ‘those branches were broken off to make room for me.’ Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, He won’t spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in His kindness” (Romans 11:17-22–nlt).
I deposit my hard-earned money in a bank who thinks that I’ll be really impressed that they have almost a thousand branches all over the place. Little do they know I only really care about the one in the area that serves my needs and keeps my livelihood safe and secure. Most of us are perfectly happy with the branch we religiously frequent. It’s probably less than a mile or two away from our driveway and they always take our checks with a smile. Our branch does most, if not all, of whatever we want it to do. I just find it a perk that mine always says, “Thank you, Mr. Morlan.” It’s nice to be known in my branch. In my everyday life, I’ll only really need that one. I never think about branches in the desert where banks number fewer than the sparsely scattered gas stations or in little towns or the ones placed in dusty, outlying areas.
Unless, of course, if I’m far away. (Then, I’m profoundly interested in branch availability.) Then, I’m screaming at my phone’s data service which is reluctant to get me online and locate the nearest ATM. When we’re far away from a branch is when it’s important to us that another branch is available. Which is the story of this passage. When one branch, in particular, stopped working according to the mission of and responsibility to the Kingdom, God shut it down and put a new one in its place. THAT’S the branch I care most about in my everyday life, of course, because it’s there to serve my everyday needs, but the Trunk my branch is grafted into is bigger than my branch, isn’t it? Its reach is far greater than my branch could ever manage. Thank God, when my branch can’t quite get there, The Tree can still reach those who are far away. Those who admit they are desperate in the outlying places of this life. God wants to graft them in, too. That’s the Tree I never want to leaf.