The General Sherman Tree is the biggest tree in the world. Its total volume equals 52,000 cubic feet, which would hold about half of an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of water. Experts say that this tree has been around for 2,000 years and it is listed among the tallest, widest, longest-living trees on planet earth. Despite its massive size, there is one thing I happen to know. The seed that this tree grew from all those years ago was no bigger than a quarter. It’s a seed you and I would step on every day walking to our car--never considering its potential.
If a seed like that took up residence in your garage, you probably wouldn’t notice or care.
If it fell into your yard and gave you some cute little green shoots, you probably still wouldn’t care. But if--overnight-- that seed sprung up into a 274ft tree that uprooted your house, dropped limbs onto your car, making it impossible for you to live on your small acre due to the structural damage to your house’s foundation...you’d for sure notice. And you’d care. You’d be removing that thing as quickly as possible before major damage was done from the roots or limb.
Do you know what else starts out as a tiny, unnoticeable, and unalarming seed?
Its seeds vary in size and appearance--sometimes they look like taking offense when someone doesn’t pick you for the church solo or choosing to stay angry and nursing old hurt from people who treated you wrongly as a child. Maybe the seed is comfortable and fun to chew on. People who allow bitterness to take root will become so angry at old hurts and present-day offenses that they can barely see straight. They struggle to find joy in anything and can fly off the handle at the slightest inconvenience. Maybe you know someone like this. In our day and age where everyone is offended, the chances are high that you do. Maybe you’ve even been bitter before.
As this tiny seed grows slowly over time, you probably don’t notice until eventually, you’re sitting there with a 274-ft tree of hurt and anger that damages your closest relationships, your opinion of the church, your walk with God, and your ability to function effectively. It’s hard to pray, it’s hard to celebrate others’ success, and you wonder what in the world happened. Bitter is a miserable place to be.
I'm no expert, but I can pretty much guarantee you that it's a lot harder to uproot a 274-ft tree than it is to throw out a seedling: handle the offense when it first comes.
If you want to stay in that cycle of constant hurt, frustration, and anger--you sure can. But I suspect you probably don’t.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”
Don’t like the way things are going? Change.
There is a God who loves you enough to help you forgive and move past old hurts. There is a God who will teach you how to respond when things don’t go your way. He’s there when you’re the one who is completely in the right yet you’re done wrong by others. He’s in it for the long haul, ready to give you healing and a vision unclouded by offenses.
Don’t put it off.
I know that these feelings become comfortable and familiar, but they are a 274-ft tree in your yard waiting to drop frozen limbs on your car and ruin your ability to function. If you’ve got a problem with others, you’ve got a problem--a seed.
Run to a prayer closet, an empty car, an altar, and cry alone until the Spirit & Word have cleaned out your old wounds. Then, it’s up to you to be vigilant. Run at the first sign of offense. Forgive quickly, turn hurts and cares over to God, and let Him do His job. I promise He’s better at it than you are.