What once started as the tiny seed in the palm of a child’s hand, has now grown into the sturdy, dependable tree that now holds the grown child in it’s branches.
Trees have always fascinated me; all plants have really. I love studying the way that that tiny seed grows. The way the leaves unfold ever so gently and provide the food the tree needs to survive on; the way it produces fruit in some form or fashion to pass along its seeds for new trees to grow; and especially the way it uses water, soil, carbon dioxide, and sunlight as it’s primary needs for survival. But the most profound thing about trees that I have recently learned, is the way they revealed “faith” to me.
My family and I recently acquired two young Cedar Elms, by accident. The way we acquired them is really irrelevant to the story, however, we are unwilling to plant them just yet, as we are only in a rent house and plan to move soon, preferably taking the trees with us. When we ended up with the two young trees, at the beginning of summer, my dad jokingly commented that “these can be our faith trees; the first part of the house we want so badly” and though I considered it a joke as well at the time, I haven’t been able to forget about it. Every time I journey across the yard to water them, for the past few months, I find myself contemplating the meaning of faith and what these two trees have to do with it. I could feel a deeper meaning, a lesson that I knew could be learned, yet I couldn’t access it yet.
So, the mornings and afternoons in which I would spend 10 to 15 minutes in the hot Texas heat to water the baby trees, I would admire them and simply think, trying to learn the lesson that I knew they were going to offer. Well, a week passed with me being out of town and I had forgotten to arrange for someone to water the trees in my absence and therefore on my return, they were well on their way to dying. One of them, which is younger and seems to have the better soil in its pot, was simply beginning to yellow and therefore was a lot easier for me to save. However the older, taller tree, had brown crunchy leaves that fell rapidly with every gentle breeze. This tree was my favorite for some reason, even before the lesson I learned from it.
I watered it fervently, making sure to not over water, yet I knew its situation was dire. I watched its leaves carefully as the dead ones continued to fall, waiting and hoping to see some new green ones sprout. It was almost a full week before I saw the tree begin to improve, the dry ugly leaves had fallen completely and the tree was bare and naked in its pot. But one small branch by one small branch, the greenery began to replenish. Now its lush with leaves just as the other one is, yet this one looks even stronger than it had before.
But while it was still recovering, I finally found the revelation that I had felt was in the midst of these trees. The tree itself is a representation of the faith we have in God’s presence in our lives. Not the faith in God in general, but the particular faith that we have in the way He interacts in our lives.
You see, it wasn’t enough for me to just believe that the tree was still alive, just as it isn’t enough for us to just believe that God cares about our lives. It wasn’t enough for me to have just said “If God wants the tree to live then He’ll make it live” just like it isn’t enough for us to say similar phrases about the situations in our lives. Yes, the first step is to believe, if I hadn’t believed that the tree was alive, I wouldn’t have tried to save it, but action needs to follow that belief. I had to water that tree every single day, once in the morning and once at night, for 4 minutes at each interval. It took only 8 minutes out of my day for me to save that tree. Isn’t that how we need to nurture our faith? By taking the time and quietly studying the Word and contemplating the powerful and fascinating way of God’s nature, isn’t that the best possible way to build our faith in knowing that He will act in our lives? And by studying and inviting Him in, we are making it possible, “cultivating the soil” if you will, to make it more probable that He will act. And all it takes is that little bit of time in the morning, and that little bit of time in the evening.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalms 1:3 (ESV)