So, as I was looking at the tree in our front yard the other day I got to thinking about how it has grown in the last 10 years. It still looks like a pretty young tree, but it has grown considerably from the time it was first planted. In a lot of ways people are like trees. Here are a few that I thought worth mentioning–
– A tree that is fed properly generally grows properly. Its trunk gets thicker, its roots grow deeper and its shade canopy becomes more widespread. When we are fed properly (can be used both in the physical and spiritual realms), we grow stronger and taller. When a tree OR a human looks sickly or is not growing we know something is definitely wrong.
–If a tree isn’t growing properly, but it is being fed, then you need to look for other problems…such as internal or external diseases or pests. Sometimes a disease or pest may threaten the very life of the tree. Sometimes it just makes the tree drop its leaves or mars its appearance. We, as people, may start looking spiritually sickly or diseased on occasion. Sometimes it threatens the very core of our spiritual health. Other times it signifies consequences of some poor choices. It is important to keep watch on our spiritual health.
–As the trunk gets thicker and the roots grow deeper, the tree becomes stronger and much more able to take the storms that will inevitably come and the gales of wind that will blow. Sometimes we do not feel strong enough to weather the storms that come our way. But if we are rooted in Jesus, we will never be uprooted. God has promised us this in His Word (Psalm 62). And the older we are in the Lord, the stronger our trunks. It takes more to shake us from the narrow path. Because we have experienced God’s faithfulness. It is easy in this culture to get discouraged about growing old. So many things shout the praises of being young. A gazillion products exist to remove our age spots, our wrinkles, and our cellulite. And yet, in growing older in the Lord, we should be wiser than we were as young people. We should realize how much we have learned and, more importantly, how much we haven’t learned.
–Just as a mature tree shades the plants and beings underneath its leafy canopy, so we can provide shade (encouragement, respite, empathy, and kindness) to those who God puts on our path. All of us have the opportunity to do these things…but the older we get…the wider our canopy becomes–through the many and varied experiences through which God as led us. We are able to reach out and touch more people because God’s faithfulness through all of our life’s journey allows us to understand and encourage others in their walks with God.
–And, finally–just as deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, so we, too, sometimes lose things or people that we value. Most times these losses lead us into our own personal winter as we struggle to understand the meaning of what happened to us. But just like the tree in springtime, one day we realize that a little shoot of hope has started to grow. And then another one. And eventually…maybe a month later…maybe 2 years later…maybe more…we realize that we are healing…slowly but surely.