Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

What Kind of Tree Are You?

Some might be disappointed, but this is not one of those quizzes like I see posted on Facebook. (There actually is one of those quizzes with this same title, but I didn’t take it because I was afraid that the results would show that I was Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree).
tree-onlyTen or twelve years ago, let’s just say eleven, Mary and I were shopping at Home Depot. After finishing our shopping in the store, we wandered out to the garden department to look for some small trees. It was November, and most of the plants were marked down because they were making room for Christmas trees.

Mary got hung up looking at wreathes and other boring items, so I cruised my wheelchair over to go look at trees. As it turned out, there were not many trees left, and I didn’t see anything I was interested in. Just when I was about to return to Mary and tell her not to bother coming over there, I spotted a tiny tree that was hidden behind two huge trees. With the footrest of my wheelchair, I pushed one of the large tree pots aside so I could get a better look at the little tree.

The tag on the tree identified it as a Bald Cypress, but it just looked like a two foot high vertical stick that sprouted a few tiny horizontal twigs. Other than a few yellowed leaves, there was no foliage on it at all; it was pitiful. But, it was marked down to only five dollars.

About that time, Mary walked up and assumed that I was looking at one of the large trees in front. Before I even noticed that she was there, I heard her voice, “That won’t fit in the van.”

ALS had already robbed me of my ability to speak, so I kicked the pot of the scrubby tree in back so she would know what I was looking at. After bending to see beneath the foliage of the trees in front, she rolled her eyes and began to walk away, thinking that I was joking.

When she finally figured out that I was serious about buying the tree, she dug it out and put it in her shopping cart. Couples (hopefully) learn to pick their battles after years of marriage and I’m sure she figured that a five dollar tree wasn’t a battle worth fighting. But I’m also sure that she felt vindicated when the cashier joined her in laughing at the tree.

After getting home, we looked for a place to plant the pathetic little tree. We finally agreed to plant it between the shed and our neighbor’s fence (I don’t remember, but Mary probably chose that spot because it was kind of hidden). After planting it, I had her place rocks around it so the men that mow our yard didn’t run over it thinking it was a weed.

He (Jesus) presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven (the Christian life) is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree…” (Matthew 13:31-32)

I didn’t have the ability to voice it at the time, but I was in total agreement with Mary and the cashier that the tree was pathetic. But I wasn’t focusing on the tree itself, I was looking at the picture of a mature Bald Cypress on the plastic tag that was attached to the stick-like trunk of the tree.

As Jesus said in the parable above, the walk of faith begins so small; like my tree, the beginning of our spiritual life is often pathetic. There will be storms that batter us as we grow, but if we remain focused on Christ and on the picture of what God designed us to be, we will conform to that image – just like my tree conformed to what I envisioned it to be:
cypress tree

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10)


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196 thoughts on “What Kind of Tree Are You?

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  1. Anonymous on said:

    Bill you are an amazing man and I am very proud to be your brother.
    Love to you and the family,

  2. Bless you my blogging friend…I loved this story! 🙂 Amy 🙂

  3. Kelly Zooms on said:

    Reblogged this on Hooked on Heaven and commented:
    Okay this just made me laugh and it made me happy seeing his tree! Gives me hope that God can even grow me! Yay! Lol

  4. Thank you for this post as I really could relate to it when you talk about our faith being “pathetic” when we first start out. I’ve been at this faith thing for a few years now and I still feel pathetic about it at times but I also try and stay focused on the person I believe God is molding me to be. What a beautiful tree you now have!

  5. LOVED this! 🙂 If we would only have eyes to see God’s potential in everything around us…

  6. This made me cry! How many times in life do we pass over something wonderful based on an initial judgment. Blessings to you for seeing and believing what your “tiny tree” was on the inside!!

    • Thank you, Lorrie. I think it’s human nature to judge by outward appearances –
      “…God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

  7. Thank you for this truthful reminder. I don’t know how or why I missed it earlier. I reposted to fb so other friends could be blessed also. God Bless you abundantly Bill.

  8. Pingback: What Kind of Tree Are You? | thotsfromgeorge

  9. Bill, I thank the Lord for you, your writing, and your blog.

  10. Oh, how we all need to remember this! What an inspiring story and so apt for me, too. Blessings!

  11. Reblogged this on verawrites and commented:
    After attending a Christian Writers conference earlier this month – feeling like the scraggly little tree – I was encouraged to hope that, in time, I might grow into the lush mature tree pictured here. Thanks for the inspiration, Bill. Your physical body may be withering but your spirit IS becoming that full mature tree.

  12. Excellent post; wonderful hope in Christ.

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