For a long time we had a crabapple at one of the front corners of our house. Small when we planted it, it grew rather large, and welcomed spring each year with a profusion of purplish flowers.
After a number of years we found ourselves ducking when we walked by it, like when I cut the grass or walked in the garden to turn on a hose. So from time to time it needed pruning and trimming, but it kept growing, sitting there rather content to occupy its corner.
One day last year, I noticed a limb drooping slightly toward the ground, or at least lower than it should have been. All looked right with the tree, but I mentioned it to my wife and we started to keep an eye on it.
Before long, it was becoming obvious: the tree was leaning, away from the house, fortunately. The leaning was becoming pronounced. We had a tree expert come in, and he mentioned things like the drought and dry soil and how it would probably stop leaning.
It didn’t stop. One day, it was all the way over to the ground. In came the tree removal service.
I’ll miss the blossoms this spring, but the tree lived its life, providing shade and beauty for a time.
A tree, writes Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers, is a lot like a godly man. It’s fruitful in its season; it’s strong in dry times; it stands out as a landmark; it’s unmoved by storms (although storms can be battering); and it provides shade for others. “When the godly perseveres through tough times, the prosperity of God will inevitably manifest,” he says. “He is blessed because he has found a place of special affection in the heart of God. And in the final analysis, that is the ultimate reward of the godly: the smile of Jesus.”
It’s a beautiful metaphor.
Right now, at this point in my life, I feel a bit like that crabapple. I’ve been enduring a situation for a number of years now, and I can say that the “How long, Lord, how long?” question has crossed my mind, and more than once. I know all the right answers; but it’s always different when you’re experiencing something that doesn’t seem to want to end but keeps repeating itself in endless circles.
I keep reminding myself that the point, however, is not the resolution. There may ultimately be no resolution.
The point is the endurance, the perseverance.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. To see more posts on this chapter, “Don’t Cast Away Your Confidence,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.
Photograph by Ellen Sholk via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.