When we bought our house seven years ago we planted two live oaks in the front yard (I hate raking leaves). Although we paid the same price for the diameter of the trees, it was the tree on the left that seemed to thrive in its new home. It grew more lush and faster than the one on the right. It offered a home for birds’ nests, and my son Ben even climbed it a time or two when he was younger. Later it was the favorite challenge for girls throwing toilet paper rolls. All the while the tree on the right gave me concern each summer when its scrawny stature would be covered with half-dead-looking leaves. My neighbor told me that live oaks do that and to just keep an eye on it. It was always the left tree that I was most proud of. It was so full and grand that it seemed it needed a trim. We saw a man trimming a neighbor’s trees and asked for his card. He trimmed the tree and we believed that there would only be bigger and greater things ahead for our beloved tree.
Well, you can guess. A couple of weeks later our once proud tree now limped withdead branches. Another call to the tree doctor brought the bad news. They hadtrimmed too much and it had stressed the tree (never trim more than 50%). Wecould have him come out and shoot hundreds of dollars of shots in our tree, buthe wouldn’t guarantee it would work. So, we are now waiting and prayingthat its youth and desire to live will bring renewal in time. It’s givenme a chance to take a new look at the other tree. Still smaller in stature, itlooks very healthy and is slowly making progress into becoming the beautifuloak it was created to be. Even the birds agree as I noticed a bird nest nestledin its branches.
My trees teach me about the spiritual life. When we have blossomed and grownthrough the hard times of life, sometimes we think that the hard times are overand we won’t face them again. That’s just not true. There might benew trials ahead, even man-created trials that test our nature. It’s normalto feel stressed or hurt when hard times come.
The trees were created to praise God. Isaiah 44:23 describes it this way, (emphasismine), Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud,O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and allyour trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory inIsrael. I see my half-dead-looking tree bringing praise and hope waitingfor God to heal the man-created wounds that have stressed its life. I see myslower-growing but healthy tree singing praise to God by offering shelter tobirds and shade to the earth at the pace it was designed to grow. All the trees,no matter what state they are in bring praise to God. And I plan to join in thechorus, whether my circumstances are stressful, slow, or just as I imagined.
This tale of two trees is not finished. Their purpose on this earth began severalyears ago and will continue until the time that God has ordained for their livesto be cut down. I hope that the man-created wound will heal by God’s graceand that both trees will live on for many years. I know that whatever state theyare in both bring praise to God.