Let's say you were out hiking in the hinterlands of Whereveropolis. Nobody goes there, but you had found your way in through a narrow chink in the cliff and then somehow scrambled through a scratchy hedge and climbed up a wallish hill until your way finally opened onto a peaceful grass covered plateau. You expect to hear Sister Maria singing something about the hills being alive, when you turn around, and find yourself in the deep shade of a mighty money tree!
The trunk is wide and tall. You can tell that it has stood there forever, undaunted and solid. The sun behind can not possibly shine through the thick foliage because the branches and stems are myriad and overwhelmingly rich with leaf! As you are awestruck at first by the very proportion and abundance of this tree, you are not yet ready to recognize the 'leaves' for what they truly are, but the impossible begins to dawn and you see.
Now your neck is craning while you study and confirm that actual paper bills cover every branch! Yes there are bills of every U.S. denomination that you know, and some you've only seen in pictures, but there are also paper pesos, and rupees and shekels. Some you might recognize like pounds or euros or yen, but many more you've never heard of like cordobas and won and zlotych and riyals fill the branches. A light breeze comes up the hill and the paper currency flows toward you while the dangling coins of silver and gold hidden in the background suddenly fill the air with rich musical tones of affluencial delight.
You have discovered THE actual money tree. But now what will you do? Now that the shock is wearing away you can look closer at the trunk. Yes it is massive and solid, but you find a narrow way that you might follow, climbing directly into the lofty branches to reap the harvest of your dreams.
And yet, you hesitate. Somehow you begin to doubt your own senses, and start to apply old proverbial poultices to quell the vision before you: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” comes to mind, and you keep hearing your Dad's voice saying “Money doesn't grow on trees you know!” But it's right there in front of you and more than a few of the single dollar bills are falling and lying on the ground at your feet. You pick them up indeed, but strangely, surprisingly, you start to back away, deciding to go and fend for yourself.
What is it about the possibility of all wealth, even all provision, actually in hand, that causes us to turn away? Why would we so often, rather “do it my way” than God's way? Why believe the self-help gurus who tell us we (even WE?) are divine instead of giving in to the real Divine? The Gospel is not hidden in the nether regions where only the few can claim its promises, but is widespread and offered freely to all. Whereas the money tree is attractive for its mythical wealth and dream fulfilling capacity, it represents the true lie whose leaves are more often poisonous. After all, money is merely a tangible transactional symbol of one's output. Looking for a money tree is like searching for an exercise tree. It is only as fruitful as it is fed.
Waiting and hoping for the money tree to pop up in one's yard only distracts from the necessary application of true wealth producing hard work, but there is another hazard, far worse. Ultimately we must all give up on the MT quest, and that frustration may lead us to forsake our even deeper desire to find, and pluck from, God's greater and very real gift; the Salvation Tree.
I hope that the seekers among us will keep their eyes wide open, as they look through cracking walls of societal consensus, crawl through brambles of scoffing and mockery, until they are even willing to climb past the treachery of disbelief and find their way to that bridging cross. That 'tree', where the ultimate provision has already been offered, and accepted, is waiting.