Johnny Appleseed Day

  • Sept. 23, 2013
  • #8191

What does the story of Johnny Appleseed have to do with Jesus? Listen as Joni shares a “happy song” that speaks about God’s grace. 

Johnny Appleseed Day

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and each of us has a happy song.

You know what I mean; I know you have one, you know, it’s just a song that bubbles up out of you when you’re happy. Some people do happy dances and, well, since I can’t dance, I do happy songs. To be honest, I have quite a few, but there’s one in particular that I’ve been singing lately when I wheel out the front door—when the day is bright and I’m traveling on the road. It goes:

“The Lord’s been good to me, and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed, the Lord’s been good to me.”

And guess what, I’m singing that song because today is Johnny Appleseed day. I know you don’t hear much about him in schools nowadays, but I sure remember learning about him when I was in elementary school. The music teacher would push her big box upright piano into our classroom and teach us all kinds of American folk songs – remember that? And if you don’t remember it, you’ll be happy to know that Johnny Appleseed was an actual man who lived along the Indiana frontier in the early 1800's. I just finished reading a newspaper clipping from the 1800's about this remarkable guy. His real name was John Chapman but after he began traveling the countryside on foot, planting orchards in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, people started calling him Johnny Appleseed.

The most famous story about this guy tells of his giving apple seeds and saplings to everyone he met. He supposedly traveled hundreds of miles to tend one of his orchards. Some people said he wore a tin pot as a hat, a coffee sack as a shirt, and no shoes. Johnny Appleseed went as far as the frontier, all the way out to the edge of the prairie to give apple seeds to farmers and settlers. After I read that newspaper clipping, I tried to find out more—he seemed like such a good man, I wondered if he knew the Lord Jesus. But unfortunately, I was not able to find a record of whether or not he was a Christian — and if you can set me straight on this, please do. And how it is this little song, “The Lord’s been good to me” ever came about, I can’t say, although my earliest recollections of it was in a little Disney cartoon movie that they made of Johnny Appleseed way back when. And, hey, we were able to find an actual clip of that Disney cartoon and I’m posting it today on my radio page – ‘cause if you are my age, you really must go check it out; it’ll bring back a lot of memories and, hopefully, get you singing this wonderful little song too. (Sadly, I think it’s highly unlikely that Johnny Appleseed will be one of those celebrated cartoons that Disney will be re-mastering on digital image and reissuing as a Disney classic on Blu-ray DVD).

But one thing’s for sure: From what I learned from that old newspaper article, Johnny Appleseed had a big influence for good on everyone he met. Everybody loved him, tin pot on his head, and all. And I’m just glad his lasting legacy as a national folk hero is a happy song about Jesus. And if you’d like to introduce the children you know to this folk hero, or learn that song, log on to joniandfriends.org and watch the video of this cartoon on my radio page. Then, go on over to Kids’ Corner where we have other fun videos for boys and girls. And finally, I have to ask you: what’s the song you sing when you’re just happy? If you don’t have one, you’re welcome to borrow mine and the other Johnnies. The Lord’s been good to us and so we thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed, the Lord’s been good to me. And you know what? He sure has! Hey, you can write me at Joni and Friends. P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376 or if you’d rather you can go to my radio page today at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends

 

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