Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Metaphor of the Tree

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.


jasonS said...

It is a beautiful metaphor. A tree may be recognized for some of these things, but most of the time, we probably take them for granted. To do what we were made to do and receive the smile of Jesus? What an incredible thing. Takes faith and humility to keep standing and walk in the endurance. Thanks Glynn.

Linda said...

I think it a beautiful metaphor too Glynn. I'm in one of those seemingly endless seasons too. It's true - the point is the endurance. It is also the things the Father works in my heart during the waiting. It seems He doesn't waste a thing - just as He said.

Unknown said...

We have a crabapple in front of our house. My wife will cry if something ever happens to it... she loves that tree, especially when it fills the yard with the sweet fragrance of its blooms.

Although I do not know your situation, know that I am praying for you brother! May you continue on in strength and faith... the day of promise draws near!

Anonymous said...

some days
leave a person feeling
just like a leaning crabapple tree

S. Etole said...

This is not an easy lesson. The imagery you have created will stay with me.

Jody Lee Collins said...

Glynn, the message of perseverance in this book really resonates. And the tree image...well, it helps.

TC Avey said...

I can't tell you the number of times I've asked God, "How long". Each time He tells me "as long as it takes."

I'm reminded of the "silent years" of Paul's life right after his conversion to Christianity. I wonder if he ever asked, "How long before I can move on to the next season?"