I want to tell you a story about a tree. That may sound odd, but hear me out.
It was young and small when it was planted. It grew slow, but steady, and dug roots into the ground. Then one day, a hurricane came, and its roots weren’t strong enough. The tree fell, laid over sideways in the storm, at the mercy of the vicious wind.
But it’s roots were still there. They weren’t completely severed.
So with a little help, the tree stood upright again. It was braced and stabilized, held firm in its place for several years as it grew strong. Eventually, the braces came off, and it was able to stand on its own. Now, years later, the tree stands tall--if a little crooked--with its branches wide, full, and healthy.
It went through a hurricane that left other, much larger trees dead and destroyed, but it held on. It survived the storm and persevered despite the odds.
This is a true story. That tree is my tree.
When my sister and I were little, my family was given two trees as a gift. The one my sister claimed got planted in the backyard, and mine was planted in the front. I remember looking out my bedroom window during Hurricane Ike to find my beloved tree laying on the ground, being tossed about by the winds. I was sad and worried it would die, but somehow, it survived. I remember the years of watching as that tree seemed to make very little progress, until one day I looked at it and realized just how large it had become.
Now that I’m married and don’t see that tree every day, I’m struck by its beauty and size even more when I do happen to see it. It’s a Live Oak--the kind of oaks you often see on the grounds of old Southern Plantations, whose trunks grow large enough for ten people to encircle and their branches ramble wide and low over the ground. Those majestic oaks, even more than my own tree, have stood the test of time. They’ve survived wars fought amongst their trunks, weathered many hurricanes besides just Hurricane Ike. They still stand strong and grow more beautiful with every year they endure.
Nothing in nature is random or coincidental; everything works together with meaning and purpose (though I do have a hard time finding the purpose of cockroaches! Ha!). So I believe there is a reason God made these trees the way that He did.
Could it be that when He created trees, especially the majestic Live Oak, He was trying to tell us that we should be like them? I think the answer to that question is an obvious yes. Jesus used trees in some of His parables and teachings, and many other scriptures reference them in comparison to spiritual matters.
When I go to my parents’ house and see my tree, I see an example of how we should handle our own storms. A hurricane may blow through our lives and knock us down, but with the help of God and those around us, we can get back up. We may be a little unstable for a while, we may need external support to hold us up as we heal, but the storm doesn’t have to kill us. We may end up with a few scars as a reminder of what we’ve been through, but ultimately come out stronger than we ever were before the storm.
Have you been through a storm in your life? I’m pretty sure your answer is yes. If not, just wait, because one will come. But take heart; you don’t have to let it kill you. Hold on with everything you have and endure.
Get back up and persevere.
Be like a tree.
**Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash**