I love trees. I love the infinite variety. I love how God made different kinds for different purposes. Some grow fruit; others yield syrup; many provide material for homes and shelter of all kinds, and others, are perfect for treehouses and tire swings. Some are best in the fall for their rich colors and crunchy leaves, while others are full of beautiful blossoms in the spring. All give their own kind of shade, protection, and habitat for a host of God’s creatures. Some are so delicate they weep over the ground they cover, while others are massive, towering strong and proud, commanding the awe and wonder of all.
I love that most of them go through seasons, and some stay the same year round. I love how they grow according to their particular environments. They lean according to the prevailing winds; they tip away from a neighboring tree to make room for their own growth; they seek the sun; they put down roots as deep as they need for adequate water and strength. Trees are sensitive to the gentle stirrings of a slight breeze and yet withstand tremendous strain when assaulted by fierce storms.
When a tree is harvested to fulfill a new purpose, the cross-section reveals many things about its life. The rings tell its age. If the tree has been injured, a mark is left behind which is grown around and later can add to the beauty of the wood. A healthy tree can withstand these injuries and grow strong, but a diseased tree may weaken and rot over time. The weakness may not be evident until the force of a mighty storm comes which breaks it at its vulnerable spot. It is when the tree comes down, whether by harvest or storm, that the truth of its life, health, and strength is known.
We are like them is so many ways. We are each uniquely created for a particular purpose. Even in a group called together to a common purpose, we are each different as to how we approach that purpose. Some of our lives yield very tangible results that can be measured, weighed, stored, hammered, nailed, and put to good use. Some of our lives offer a refuge, a safe place, a compassionate ear, and a shelter to the smallest and weakest of God’s people, weeping and rejoicing with others. Some of us are best when providing that treehouse or tire swing.
Most of us go through seasons. We have times of new growth in a new truth or service. We move through periods of maturing and come to a point of seeing results. Often we have down times of rest and recuperation before the cycle starts again. There are some who are steady and green and full their entire lives. They provide wonderful protection from the howling winds that would overtake the souls of those they stand watch over.
We each come through life with a different set of circumstances which have molded the direction of our growth. Prevailing winds may have bent one’s soul a certain direction while another grew in an environment that forced it to reach tall and straight to find the sun. Each of us has experienced hurt, injury, and pain of one kind or another. If we allow bitterness and don’t let God keep our hearts open to His love, the result will be rot and decay that leaves us vulnerable when the storms come. He provides Himself as our refuge and healer to restore all that would try to break us. Our responses to the winds that blow through our times are all affected by our differing purposes and history. God makes it that way for a reason. He uses all of us in individual ways to meet individual needs in individual lives.
We many times never see the true beauty of a life until it is over, and even then we don’t see it fully. We will see some lives that were touched, the stability and strength of a family and home, the love that was faithfully shown in difficult circumstances, or the benefits provided by generosity to others. But later the time will come when all things are revealed and the Lord places His value on our lives. We may see an injury that the Lord healed and touched to become something beautiful and useful. We will see how the things we thought were weaknesses were really the instruments God used to make Himself known to others who were struggling. Our hurts became the pathway of blessing and strength in maybe just one life which was watching from a distance.
We will not know these things fully now, but we can live with hearts full of hope. We will trust that He has planted us right where He wants us, and that He is forming us to be exactly the kind of person He desires for the purpose that only He may see. Let us live in joy and peace, accepting and loving each other for the beauty He has created in us. We are the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified!