Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Lesson I Learned about Trees

Photo taken by me during one
of my morning bike rides
     Unless you live in a desert, you have probably seen a tree or two I your lifetime. You have seen big trees, little trees, trees that flower and trees that bear fruit. There are about 100,000 different species of trees in our world today and every single one of them is different from the other. I never really took notice of these differences until I became a Christian. You might be thinking that is a very odd statement to make and you are probably right, it is kind of odd that it took me that long to notice the difference in trees, but bear with me and I will explain. You see, I learned a valuable lesson not long after I became a Christian about my own personal walk with Jesus while staring at some trees.    
     If you know my story you will know that I gave my life to Jesus Christ in the spring of 2000. During that period of time my husband and I were separated and our marriage was teetering towards divorce. But then, one day, Jesus knocked on my heart and I answered Him. From that moment on I was head over heels in love with this awesome God who had died for me. Back then I was on fire for Jesus. My family thought that I had joined a cult and my husband was pretty certain I had officially joined the nut farm. But then they began to see changes in me. Good changes. I walked away from some very bad habits that had been tearing our family apart, drugs and alcohol abuse to be exact. I also walked away from some very ungodly and unholy relationships that I had been holding onto. I began to
understand what it meant to be a godly wife and mother and our marriage began to heal. I began to live a life surrounded by the Word of God. You could not have a conversation with me without me telling you about Jesus and all that He had done for me. I started to be regular at church, I joined the women's bible study, I was serving, I was on fire. Day after day I was on my knees before my Holy God in awe and wonder at the great and mighty work He had done in me.
     I remember sitting in one of our women's bible studies, listening to one of my sisters in the Lord talk about her faith. My heart longed to have that kind of passion, it longed to have that kind of faith. I began to question my own walk after leaving the study and heading home. Was I not doing something right? Why didn't I have that kind of faith and passion? I was a Christian too, shouldn't I have that same experience? Was I not reading and studying enough? Was I not praying enough? When I compared my walk to her walk, mine paled in comparison.
     The next day, still questioning my faith and my relationship to the Lord, I walked outside to our pond and sat down amidst the trees that surrounded it. I began to pray. I begged God to give me that kind of passion for Him, a passion that surpassed all other passions. I wept, I cried and I prayed. I prayed for Him to show me where my faith was lacking and what I needed to do to be more like Him, more like my sister in the Lord. It was then that a breeze picked up and the trees began to sway under its gentle leading. I looked up from my humbled place of prayer and saw for the first time how unique and different all the trees around the pond were from one another.
     
Photo taken by me
American Tobacco Trail 
We had just planted a small orchard on one side of the pond so I put down my bible and walked down through the rows. I noticed how the first cherry tree we planted had grown so much more than the one right next to it. Both of them had been planted on the same day, yet one of them was growing a little faster than the other. I saw how the one apple tree had more branches and more leaves than the one right next to it, which was still growing, it just wasn't growing the same. We had planted all these fruit trees at the same time, but each one of them were growing at different rates and in different ways.
     Then it hit me. I was like these trees. I was growing and I was gaining in height, but I had just been planted. This sister in the Lord that I was comparing myself to, that I had been so intrigued by, had been walking with the Lord for almost twenty years. She had been walking with the Lord, seeking the Lord and passionately pursing the Lord for many more years than I had been. I was just a few years old. I learned that day that I cannot compare my life to someone else's because we are not all the same. We are individual trees, planted at different times, growing at different rates and becoming a different tree from everyone else.

     I am not sure why the Lord has me writing these words to you today, but I believe there is a woman out there who needs to hear these words. Don't compare yourself with others because they are a different tree. Compare yourself to Christ and He will give you the water and the nutrients you need to become the tree He wants you to be. We are all different trees growing at different speeds. We can encourage one another, ignite passion in one another, and support one another in our growth, but in the end no one else compares to the tree God is making you out to be. Amen?