If you follow this blog at all, you know I have a crazy yard that I spend my free weekends working to slowly improve. There’s always something new and unexpected happening that keeps me on my toes.
One of those recent unexpected things was when a small tree fell over after a storm. It was one of our “weird trees” (meaning it had no business being in that spot!), and I had already planned to take it out as soon as my husband and his chainsaw were available so I just figured God helped me out with it. I say it “fell” over, but it would be more accurate to say that it “leaned” over. Extremely leaned over.
So one day I had my clippers cutting back other brush in the yard and decided to go ahead and cut the small branches off of this tree and then finish most of the job later with my electric chainsaw. It did look odd, but again – it’s a crazy yard so I didn’t really worry about it.
We went on vacation and the day after we got back, I happened to glance at the tree when I was getting the newspaper. To my surprise, it was sprouting new leaves! It turns out that even though it was leaning over almost flat, there are still enough roots intact for it to be alive and bear more leaves and branches.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3
Of course, these verses didn’t perfectly describe my odd, extremely leaning tree since it’s not by a stream. But this crazy-looking tree reminded me that as long as I stay rooted, I will bear fruit.
And that was encouraging to me that day because the other thought I had as I saw that tree was that I felt kind of blown over, too. Don’t we all have those days? Maybe they aren’t just days but weeks or seasons or years. Life can come at us hard sometimes. For me that day it was mostly lots of things going on with several family members and some personal health concerns. In fact, the night before, I had been so sad when I went to bed that I woke up at 2:30am having a dream that was so sad, I was crying. Like real tears in my eyes when I woke up. I rarely cry when I’m awake, and I sure never do it in my sleep! So that morning I felt like that tree. Blown over by life, burdened, and heavy-hearted.
And yet I was reminded by the tree that even when I’m feeling that way – even when life is really hard – I can still bear fruit. It’s not about how much I’m “leaning over” – it’s about whether my roots are staying intact in the midst of it. He still wants to bear fruit through me, and He always will if I stay rooted and remain in Him (John 15:5). As Jeremiah says, I don’t have to “fear when the heat comes”. I can still have “green leaves”, “not be anxious in a year of drought”, and bear fruit.
God is so gracious. By lunch time that day, He had specifically answered my prayers for one of the situations that was causing me to feel blown over like that tree. It’s amazing how it lightened my load. Most of the other circumstances are the same, but I’m no longer sad. I know, though, that there will still be days and weeks and months where I will feel like that tree again, and I’m thankful for the visual reminder of staying rooted and bearing fruit no matter how hard life gets.