Just Keep Growing
Yosemite National Park is home to some of the world’s most majestic water falls and grandest granite cliffs. There is so much that is HUGE in Yosemite, that if one isn’t careful, they can miss the small wonders that lie around almost every corner.
One of the most fascinating things you discover getting out of the paved Valley and up into the winding hiking trails is how nature and weather have impacted everything that grows there. Very often you will see a tree that holds within it an untold tale of past tribulation.
For example, last year, along the trail to The Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias I noticed this tree coming out of the hill beside me. We learn as children that trees naturally grow in a straight line toward sunlight, wherever it may be. But their path upwards can be dramatically hindered by wind, storms, lightening and other traumatic events that occur in the forest, often never seen by people who aren’t hiking during those times or conditions.
As I looked at this tree I couldn’t help wishing I had a stop-motion film of what this tree had lived through in order to be shaped so dramatically into this letter “S.” It is obvious to see where it has been bent, broken and twisted from it’s desired shape and direction, and yet, nevertheless, it points upwards.
Aren’t we like this tree?
God has a plan for our life, a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. A plan to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11) and yet life has often taken us off the intended trajectory. At times it is our own sin that thwarts our upward progress, other times it is injury inflicted by a storm of life beyond our control. Most of these events that break, bend and twist our fate are unseen by others – but they do happen. One of the seldom quoted promises of Jesus is that we will face tribulation in this world. (John 16:33)
What, then, is the secret to surviving and thriving through these storms, set-backs and hurts?
Trees that perish are soon forgotten. Those that keep growing overcome these set backs and become noteworthy. Here is the glorious part. As I was hiking I passed countless tress that pointed straight toward the sky, never wavering or bending, and yet, few of them caught my eye or merited my raising my camera to capture the memory of them. But this tree, twisted, bent and broken – yet surviving gave me pause to stop and admire. It’s scars made it beautiful. They are a testament to it’s steadiness, perseverance and sheer will to survive. As it reached for the sun, despite it’s past, this tree became something that stopped me in my tracks.
The same is true for us. We may have brokenness and bent histories. We may have endured torrential storms. We may not appear the way we thought we’d be nor life be what we had hoped – but if we continue to grow, we ironically become even more beautiful to a world that is watching. Those who are straight and perfect can be commended for their steadfastness, but it is the damaged ones that still reach up that give us pause and earn our attention. They glorify God in their uniqueness and their stubborn determination to keep growing toward the Son.
So never stop growing and embrace your scars – they are living proof that you follow a God who heals and redirects and who will make beauty out of deformity.
It’s OK to be a twisted tree. Just keep growing and you’ll bring glory to God.