I am completely fascinated with trees and have been for as long as I can remember. There is something purely poetic about them that captures my senses and I can stand unmoved for hours trying to take in their beauty. The way they twist and turn; how the scraggly, seemingly imperfect branches grow mightily out of the trunk, drawing strength from the base that holds them at varying angles and in varying directions. They may stand upright in power or lean majestically. Trunks may curve or bend to dodge obstructions from the Sun. Limbs may branch off at any moment in all directions, soon to have smaller branches coming from them, reaching still higher.
The leaves, oh, the leaves themselves are a whole new story completely! They hang with dignity from the ends of the branches capturing ray upon ray of sun, drop after drop of sweet rain. Each leaf is new—none are the same shape or size or color. While they flow with the breeze or bounce with each raindrop that hits their surface, they are strong and do not fall until their time has come. The leaves are reaching--like a child on its tiptoes--straining, stretching toward the sun to soak up just a little more of its radiance. Their colors change in the splendid fashion, again, each unique in color.
What really amazes me is the spiritual symbolism that trees represent. Trees are mentioned often in the Bible—Psalm 1, Matthew 13 and 15, Luke 21, Revelation 22.
Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches. We draw our strength from Him. Our ability to weather the elements and our source of sustenance come from Him! We are the contorted, flawed branches that are reaching out to the rest of the world.
Though the limbs, when not attached to the tree, seem long and awkwardly gnarled in different ways, they are perfect when part of the whole. We are each one significant part of the body of Christ. We can’t function alone, but when we are together, we make something great.
The lives of trees represent, in so many ways, the life we live physically and spiritually. There is the obvious birth, growth, and demise represented by the change of the leaves as seasons go by, but think about this:: Have you ever seen a baby tree—one maybe only a few inches high that my mother would fondly call a ‘charlie brown tree?’ The bark is smooth, the leaves small and delicate…easily broken by things bigger and stronger, yet still persistent and standing confidently. I don’t know how many of you are around little kids, but they are similar. Older trees are wiser—the storms they’ve weathered and the rain they’ve used to grow shows easily through their size and the rings that are found in their trunks. The bark, though rough and ostensibly ugly, only adds to their stately appearance. Spiritually, we are somewhat weak in our beginnings, but as time goes on our faith grows and we are stronger and more knowledgeable in the Word. It is harder to bend and break us. The storms of life that may come have to be that much stronger to knock us down for we have found strength in something that is not easily swayed.
For as we grow…our roots dig deeper and deeper. With each storm, our roots spread a little farther and hold a little tighter. As we are faced with trials in our lives, we dig deeper in God’s Word, drawing strength from promise after promise in every scripture. However, if we don’t we are weak and easily blown with the wind. If you’re ever in a storm outside, stop and take a look at the trees. The ones that are alone generally will sway more than those that are in groups. Surround yourself with friends of like faith. They will strengthen you in the storms that you go through in life. They will lift you up to the Lord in your struggles and will celebrate and praise the Lord with you. They will be your shoulder to lean on when you need it, an ear to listen when you just need to vent, and a source of great encouragement…this I know from experience. I have been blessed with incredible friends throughout my life—some that are no longer in my life and some that I pray will stay forever. There’s just a different sort of feeling to be with friends who share your same faith in the Lord. They touch your heart like other friends just can’t. The Bible says that where two or three are gathered, the Lord will be there in the midst. Just think about that one.
Trees also bear fruit in due season – bananas, apples, pears, acorns, pecans, and so forth – and are known by what fruits they produce. We also are known by our fruits, our actions. We are associated with the Lord through our actions. Sure, inward faith is extremely important, but as James says, faith without works is vain.
It’s taken me days to write this note. I have tried many times to put into words my love for trees – their beauty physically and spiritually – but it’s been a task for me. I suspect I could spend weeks, months, years writing on my love for trees and my love for my Savior who has created them. It takes me a while to get where I'm going sometimes because I’m just fascinated by the trees—the shelter they provide, the beauty they bring to the area….the ones that lean… I like the ones that lean. They’ve got that much more soul. ;)
:edit: (23 March 2010)
about trees in groups - it is also an interesting parallel how Matthew 18:20 says where two or three are gathered in the name of the Lord, HE is in the midst ... kind of like those trees - regardless of the overflowing joys or the storm that may be raging...if we stand together HE is with us, protecting us and strengthening us.
Also, a note on the cross as a tree here