The Story of 5 Trees and What They Taught Me

by May 17, 2018

A Tree of Safety

When I was about six, my brother Lea taught me to climb a huge tree, we called it the cigar tree – for it had seed pods that looked like cigars. Lea would lift me up, show me where to put my hands and feet, then descend behind me and place my feet in safe places, as he protected me from falling.

My brother was my hero; he was unafraid and a good teacher. Because he believed I could learn, I soon was climbing without him watching over me. When I was afraid, I would climb high into the cigar tree, where I could safely hide, unseen by any below. I spent delightful moments of peace and quiet there. 

A Tree of Acceptance

I had just been through a very traumatic experience before I landed in England, the land of my ancestors. Thinking it would be a place of welcome and joy, I quickly retreated inside myself as I encountered some people with prejudices against Americans.

At Nettlestead, living with my sister and her family, I  grew to love two different trees. One we referred to as a monkey tree; its branches hanging down like money tails, caused me to smile whenever I saw it. How I loved that tree. It spoke of a Creator with a sense of humor rather than an angry old man ready to beat us if we made a mistake.

A Tree of Healing

In the opposite direction was another tree – sprawling, twisted and gnarled with age. Yet to my eyes, it was wonderfully beautiful. After a meeting in Swindon where George Verwer spoke on how Jesus purchased our salvation at Calvary and there was nothing we needed to do for Him to love us, I asked Jesus to be my Saviour – that tree spoke to me of triumph over the past.

Whenever I was sad, or felt a failure, was lonely or depressed, I would walk to that tree. Many times I wept as I prayed beneath its boughs. If God could make a gnarled old tree so beautiful and alive, then He could take my wounds and scars and make something beautiful out of my life.

A Tree of Resilience

There was a tree in Spearfish Canyon that grew out of the rock; it was not great and lush, but looked as it if was fighting for its life. Each time I rounded the bend, I would look for that tree, which valiantly resisted every storm.

It encouraged me to cling to the hope that in Christ my Rock, it didn’t matter if I wasn’t great or strong. Though the winds would assail me, I could stand through the storm, for my feet were grounded in the Rock that never fails.

A Tree of Joy

After years in Florida – a land with few climbable trees – to my delight, I encountered a tree in the Bok Tower gardens. I had been unwell and could no longer swing myself up onto a branch, where I could then climb.

Its wide branches hung low to the ground, inviting me to step up and rest on its huge branch that hung perpendicular to the ground. There, underneath the canopy of its leaves, my heart felt at peace and I worshiped.

Lessons from Trees

I am deeply grateful the Lord made trees. As I look at them, I find hope springing up in my heart. Whether the tree is bursting with life, buds, fresh leaves, is covered with flowers or fruit, wears the vibrant colors of fall, or its branches stand stark against the night sky of winter – trees of each season have their own beauty and dignity and minister to my heart.

Trees teach us to be:

1) Surrendered and Flexible

Have you ever noticed how graceful a tree is? Or how when the tempest sweeps over it, bending it nearly to the ground, it doesn’t resist? Supple and flexible, it moves at the slightest will of the wind passing over it.

2) Firmly Planted

David said that a person who delights in God’s Word, who meditates on the Word day and might will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water (Psalms 1).

3) Humble and Rooted

A tree’s foliage and health lies in its water supply. Those planted by a source of water are lush, their roots growing deep. A tree’s grace and beauty lies in how it bends at the mercy of the wind. As it moves, it doesn’t lose any of its own character but bows in humility before the raging storm, quick to lift its branches in worship of the Heavenly Father.

Are you like a tree planted by the water? Do you know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour and your Friend? Do you spend time every day in the Bible? If you do, your spirit will begin to thrive and you will gain courage to face your day.

When the wind of the Holy Spirit blows over your life, breaking off dead branches and causing you to bend – do you bow in gratitude and worship that He is working in your life? Or do you grumble, complain, or even angrily resist His purifying touch?

If the tree refuses to drink the water, it cannot grow a healthy root system and it will shrivel and die. If it refuses to bend at the touch of the storm, the trunk will ultimately break.

I encourage you to look at the trees around you. Learn from them. They are God’s provision to bless as they provide safety, nourishment, and beauty.

Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord. Who, no matter what happens, places his or her confidence in the Lord. That person will be like a tree whose roots grow deep, drawing from the fountain of life. He or she will bow in worship and will not be afraid in times of drought; their leaves will be vibrant with life and they will bear much fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

May you become a beautiful tree who is a blessing to those around you.

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