Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Tale of Two Trees

I want to tell you a little story of two trees.

These are trees I pass routinely when I take my main route to work.  (There are several different routes we can take to get to work/church.  I vary them often . . . just because.  "Variety is the spice of life!" was one of my mom's favorite sayings.)

So, back to the two trees.

The first tree is barren and rather sad looking.  Scraggly, uninviting, down-right ugly.  If not for the crisp blue of the sky I captured in this picture, there would be no indication of life.  In fact while driving by, I've often wondered if the owners shouldn't just cut it down.  Honestly, what purpose does it serve?

Tree #1

The second tree is the complete opposite.  It is absolutely bursting with vibrant color.  Delicate, bloom laden branches wave gracefully in the morning and afternoon breezes.  The lavender blossoms and green leaves backed by the brilliant blues of the sky create a breath-taking scene.  I find myself anxious to round the corner and experience the thrill of spotting this tree twice each day.

Tree #2  
Quite the difference, don't you agree?  So tell the truth.  When you compare what the two trees offer, wouldn't you agree with me that the first one would serve better as firewood?  I mean, really!

Except, look again.  A little more closely this time.  Can you see what I'm talking about?

These are not two different trees.  These are actually pictures of the same tree just taken at two different times.  Surprised?

The first picture was taken in January.  That day was cold and nasty. Rain clouds are just outside the frame.  Actually,  it was rather bleak by Florida standards.  The second picture was taken week before last.  The day was warm and spring was literally"bursting out all over," to quote Rogers and Hammerstein.

The first picture was taken with this blog post in mind.

I knew I would have to wait patiently for several weeks to write it.  But because I've been passing this tree for over five years, I knew it was just a matter of time.  Eventually, the ugly branches would begin to bloom, supporting the fabulous lavender flowers and tender, pale green leaves as they pushed their way into the sunlight.

If we're honest, there are times when all we can see are the barren, ugly, scraggly parts of our lives.  We hope for beauty but there is none to be seen.  We long to see purpose but it's hidden from view.  We feel we have nothing of value to offer.

In those times, it's vitally important that we exercise patience.  Don't Give Up!

The first picture is not the whole story.  And if you're in an ugly season of life, please hear me calling to you, "This moment is NOT the whole story."

I've lived through those times, too.  Times like now when everything around us feels shrouded with uncertainty and ugliness.  We're hoping for things to return to normal.  We long to see at least a small semblance of what we can embrace.

But this moment in time isn't the whole story.  If we exercise patience and faith, we can eventually see fruitfulness begin to bloom from our barrenness.

Isaiah 55:8-9 has long been a favorite Bible passage for me:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Beautiful, right?!

Dear Reader, please understand that God created that tree to respond to the seasons.  In just a few weeks, the delightful lavender blooms will all drop away and the leaves will push to the forefront.  The tree will spend the better part of this year serving as a magnificent shade tree.  (Much needed here in FL.)

I didn't create the tree.  So the first year I saw it, I didn't understand the barren branches would only be like that for a short while.  Imagine my utter joy when I first rounded the corner on my way to work and realized it had become such a show-stopper of beauty.

God created you and I with the ability to respond to the seasons, as well.  Just because you don't see beauty and fruitfulness in your life right now doesn't mean it isn't there.  

Don't give up, Dear Reader.   God has thoughts and plans for you that are so much higher.  Your season of service will come.  Be patient.  And watch for the beauty that will soon bring delight to all who observe it!

How about you?  Have you been feeling more like the first tree, lately?  Does it seem like your season of barren living has gone on too long?  Or maybe you've started seeing a few blooms of hope.  We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.......


  1. Encouraging words. Thank you!

    Love, Deb Mantik

  2. I was surprised when you said they were the same tree. I should not have been. We live in the woods and it is always so interesting to me as the seasons change and our woods do too. Bare trees to budding trees to beautiful branches full of leaves. When the leaves drop once again the snow falls and our woods look completely different covered in snow. I love the seasons and as we have gone through the last six weeks I see the trees changing. I am thankful to God for this because right now every day seems the same.

    1. Thankful with you for the beauty of nature, especially now. "If the whole earth sings Your praise, so will I...." Must admit I miss the changing seasons from NC years. Blessings!