They killed it. The big, picture-perfect maple in my neighbor’s front yard was sawed off to a 6 foot stump. I thought, “You have got to be kidding me! A gorgeous tree like that and you go and destroy it. For what?”
Our great old oak with its gnarly looking bark and some dead branches gets more respect than that beautiful maple. We are doing what we can to see that the oak goes by way of nature or it doesn’t go at all. That’s how much we respect and appreciate our tree. I feel the same about our huge black walnut tree. We see creation for what it is: a marvelous gift from a loving, benevolent, infinite Creator Father who appointed us as caretakers. Looking at that flat-topped, bleak stump in my neighbor’s front yard made me feel a little sick and a lot sad.
Fast forward. I was admiring my neighbor’s tree yesterday. I do that often. The story I told you happened years ago. I thought they killed the tree, but they didn’t. It grew back in record time. I couldn’t believe it. It’s grown to be as big and beautiful as it was before it was chopped. It remains picture-perfect and gorgeous. Maybe even more so to me now that I know what it went through.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about broken people and things that look hopeless. That stump of a tree is a picture of how I feel about some circumstances I’ve run up against in my own life. I find that I’ve been grieving for things that I desperately longed for that haven’t come to pass, things that look like they’ve been chopped off. At times I have limped through life without having quite the beauty of the types of relationships and the things that I dreamed of. And hope….I guess I’m in a battle between two pictures in my mind: the sawed off stump and the big, gorgeous tree.
The vision of the sawed off stump kind of makes me feel like this clip from my all-time favorite movie, The Princess Bride.
The picture of the restored tree is much like a scripture I revisited today. I love how this passage is written under the title of “Seven Blessings”.
Joel 2:23. You children of Zion, rejoice exuberantly! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For He has given you the Teacher of acts of loving kindness and 1 the Teacher will cause the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain as at the first. (Double Blessing) 24. 2 And the floors will be full of wheat and the vats will overflow with wine and oil. (Abundance) 25. 3 And I shall restore to you the years that the locust, the canker worm, the caterpillar, and the palmer worm have eaten, (Restoration) My great army which I sent among you. 26. 4 And you will eat in plenty and be satisfied, (Never a Lack) and praise the name of the LORD your God, 5 Who has dealt wondrously with you, (Miracles) and 6 My people will never be ashamed. (Respect) 27. And you will know that 7 I AM in the midst of Israel, (Divine Presence) and I AM the LORD your God, and no one else is, and My people will never be ashamed. Joel 2:23-27 ~The One New Man Bible
I read this and I think, How, LORD? How do you restore the stolen innocence of a child? How do you restore the love between husbands and wives who have caused each other so much pain? How do You restore the faith of someone who lost a loved one prematurely? How, LORD? How do You take shattered hearts, and splintered hopes, and broken dreams, and make them whole? How do You restore years? That one there is a total mystery to me.
Actually, it’s all a mystery. But I recognize some steps I can take to prepare for the process of restoration, something I look forward to experiencing.
- Walk in forgiveness.
- Continue to love even when I feel it’s impossible.
- Fight for faith when I feel all faith is gone.
- Speak the Truth despite what I feel and see.
Those are my responsibilities. The how isn’t up to me. I’m glad it isn’t because I’d screw it up. Not to mention, I kind of look forward to seeing how God is going to do this. How? Look around at the splendor, beauty, and diversity of His creation. He is a God who definitely thinks outside of the box. If He can do wonders with trees, what will He do for me? For you? For we are the crown of His creation.
I humbly come to you today, Dear Heart, and tell you that I have been facing the death of so many dreams recently. Despite the pain of this grief, I choose to believe. I continue because of His Word, because He who promised can not lie. I continue to cry out to Him, to lay my brokenness at His feet, because He alone can restore.
Join me today in faith believing that the battles that are ripping our guts out now will bring great glory to Jesus as we triumph over them later. We are not meant to live in brokenness, Beloved. We are meant for so much more. We were made to be whole. I’m so glad He’s not done, I have much more living and loving to do. And so do you.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3 NLT