Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parable of the Apple Pickers

Once upon a time there was an apple grower who had acres and acres of apple trees. In all, he had 10,000 acres of apple orchards.

One day he went to the nearby town and hired 1,000 apple pickers. He told them: "Go into all my orchards. Harvest the ripe apples, and build storage buildings for them so that they will not spoil. I need to be gone for a while, but I will provide all you will need to complete the task. You will be responsible for the entire operation. When I return, I will reward you for your work."

Some people volunteered to be pickers and others to be packers. Others put their skills to work as accountants, truck drivers, cooks, storehouse workers and apple inspectors. Every one of his workers could have picked apples, but only 100 of the 1,000 employees wound up as pickers.

The 100 pickers started harvesting immediately. Ninety-four of them began picking around the closest 800 acres. The remaining six looked out toward the horizon and decided to go to the far-away acres of the orchard.

The orchards on the 800 acres had thousands of apple trees, but with almost all of the pickers concentrating on them, those trees were soon picked nearly bare. In fact, the ninety-four apple pickers working within the 800 acres began having difficulty finding trees which had not been picked.

With so many workers and so few trees left unharvested in the 800 acres, most of the employees had time for more than just worrying about apples. They built nice houses and raised their standard of living. They began building larger storehouses and developing better equipment for picking and packing.

The harvesting of the remaining 9,200 acres was left to just six pickers. Of course, those six were far too few to gather all the ripe fruit in those thousands of acres. So, by the hundreds of thousands, apples rotted on the trees and fell to the ground.

The six pickers longed for more pickers to come help them. They sometimes wondered to themselves whether or not the employees were doing what the orchard owner had asked them to do.

When the owner returns, one wonders how happy he will be when he looks out and sees the acres and acres of untouched trees.