I was admiring our red maple tree in the back yard. The fog had descended around it and gave the tree an eerie look.
“How sad,” I thought, “It looks so lonely.” There used to be a total of four trees but three had to be taken out to allow for the new addition on the house.
Strangely enough, my life seems to be like this tree.
Like the tree, I too am standing by myself. At times I feel lonely wishing I had someone to share my sad moments and high points of my life with. But, unlike the tree, I have friends and family that I can lean on or celebrate with.
The tree has been around for about forty years and has gone through many seasons of dropping its leaves in the fall only to sprout new leaves in the Spring to provide shade and harbor for all.
My seasons of life have been many: dry times of feeling empty and useless, times of feeling alive being fully immersed in God’s word, periods of sadness and loss that produce many tears, and eras of joy and celebrations of life and accomplishments.
In the life span of the tree, it has weathered through many storms and dry seasons, and still the tree has stood solid.
Storms have come and gone in my life causing me to reassess myself. During these times I envision myself leaning into the storm with the wind strong in my face while pounding my fist toward the sky screaming, “God, help me!”
As I study the tree more closely, I notice that at the top of the trunk there are three large stumps where at one time the tree had been trimmed back drastically. This must have put the tree into shock. But eventually it caused the tree to grow new branches into a beautifully shaped canopy.
I too have been trimmed back. It sucks and it hurts. It’s those life experiences that you don’t ever want to repeat. Today when I think about those times, it still brings me pain. But the outcome brought forth maturity within me and I grew as a person, wiser and more confident. I became steadfast in God’s word with faith and wisdom flourishing within me. After God cleared away all the yuckiness he was able to make something beautiful out of me. Of course, he’s not done with me yet.
When I stand next to the tree, I see the big roots at the base of the trunk that go deep into the ground transporting water and nutrients to the tree during its growing season and storing nutrients for the winter.
How I too must allow my root system grow deeper and stronger by memorizing verses to hide in my heart for later references: doing daily devotions and studying the word, constantly nurturing relationships with friends and family, taking every opportunity to learn how to improve myself and to manage life better. If I don’t do this, then how will I be able to stand in the midst of adversity and get through the storms of life that could topple me over if my roots are not healthy?
Every year the tree produces a seeds, what I call helicopters, dropping to the ground in hopes to reproduce themself and provide more trees.
I can’t reproduce myself, and honestly, I don’t think anyone else would want a repeat of Gwen Hinkle! But I did give birth to my son, Andy, and I am mighty proud of him!
I wonder how long this tree will stand. Will someday a disease attack it and die? Will it be cut down because it’s no longer needed? Or, perhaps a big storm will knock it down.
My life too one day will end. As to how or when, I’m not privy to this knowledge. Only God knows. Until that day, I will continue to live.
I will prepare for the future storms. I will stand strong in the midst of adversity by leaning on God and drawing strength from him. I will enjoy every moment of new life and celebrating triumphs. I will shed tears for times of sadness and loss. I will nurture my relationships with family and friends. My roots will be strengthened by staying immersed in God’s word and memorizing verses.
But most of all, when I lose my leaves in the fall and winter sets in leaving me dormant, I will remember that Spring will always come again where I will break free with joy growing new leaves and enjoying the warmth of Summer.