On one of my trips to the riverfront I spent some time observing the beautiful trees and found something quite interesting. The first set of trees I noticed was the ones along the edge of the water. Due to the soil erosion from the flow of the river there are a number of trees right on the bank that appear to be holding on for dear life. All of their root structure is exposed and they look so precarious and yet each of the trees still manages to provide a healthy habitat for the birds above and for the fish below.
When you look closely you can still see the flood water levels marked vertically along the trunk like a type of growth chart. This is an indication of the trauma that these trees have faced over many years and yet they are still standing. When destructive forces were at their peak, these wooden giants received a permanent mark, but remained upright.
What a great lesson for life that can throw all sorts of dramas and trials our way. We have a choice to allow the ‘floods’ to wash us away, or we can stay standing. We will be marked as a result of being through that event, but it can be worn as more of a badge of honour, rather than a sign of disgrace.
Not much further away from these examples of resilience in nature I found a number of contradictory trees. At the foot of seemingly healthy looking gumtrees were some large branches that had fallen away from the body of the tree. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the interior of these branches was completely rotten. The exterior of the branch looked perfectly fine, and the only indication that things weren’t as they should be were the fact that the leaves on the branch were dead and the branch was on the ground.
There are times that we can appear to be all healthy and ‘together’ on the exterior, but the internal story is something completely different. There may be subtle hints to the true state of affairs, but often it takes a significant event to demonstrate how inadequate and unhealthy things actually are.
In reflecting upon these two situations I believe I would like to be more like the first set of trees than the second one. To still be standing, despite the storms that have come my way is something that I am proud of.
The Bible tells me that those who read and hold firm to the words contained therein are like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1 verse 3). May this be the case for me, and for you also.