Climbing a Tree

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. ~William Blake

There was a cherry tree in the yard of my childhood home. My brother and I enjoyed climbing it.

I remember once, during cherry season, my brother and I climbed higher than before, trying to get to those sweet cherries. When he had had enough, my brother climbed down.

I, however, was stuck.

There was no going up and no coming down. My mother had to come out, climb the ladder, retrieve me, and carry me down.

About a day later, I climbed the tree again.

I got stuck again.

I wasn’t allowed to climb the tree after that.

Zaccheus was familiar with a tree, too.

Luke 19 tells us that he ran ahead of the crowd to climb a sycamore-fig tree. He was short and wanted to see Jesus among the people.

He must have had a relationship with that tree for it to pop into his head. Sycamore fig trees are about the size of apple or cherry trees, full of ripe fruit in the autumn.  I wonder if his mom ever had to rescue him when he was a youngster.

Maybe he had a relationship with lots of trees since he was short. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that Zaccheus used what was right in front of him to get to know Jesus better.

He was excited, curious, determined.

He had heard something that piqued his interest and he wanted to know more. When Jesus saw him in the tree, Jesus invited himself to dinner at Zaccheus’s house.

What trees are along your path?

Is your child asking you questions about faith? Settle in those branches to read the Bible together and look for the answers.

Are you struggling with a health issue that the doctors don’t understand? Hold tightly to the trunk for a month of fasting and prayer while looking for healing and/or other options.

Maybe you’ve lost a job, a loved one, or hope. Don’t worry. Even a dead tree can be climbed.

Are you using what’s right in front of you to know the Savior of the world even better? Are you climbing your tree?

What does your tree look like?

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41-44 NIV

Quiet Perspective

From my perspective, I absolutely believe in a greater spiritual power, far greater than I am, from which I have derived strength in moments of sadness or fear. That’s what I believe, and it was very, very strong in the forest. ~Jane Goodall

A tall birch grows on the south side of the house. Its willowy branches sway in the tiniest breeze.

From my bedroom window I spy a dead bough wedged in the forks of a main branch. At the base of the tree grows a clump of gnarled roots, searching for a bit of grass to cover them. The gray-brown trunk, stripped by goats during the winter months, stands in naked disregard.

This window gazes upon a homeless man who whines about the way the world has treated him. Behind him stands a bent old woman complaining about her never ending aches and pains. Glowering above them both is a young man staring into the distant horizon, his anger twisting the branches into a crown of hatred.

From my armchair in the study I stare at the same tree. It is full of life; green leaves twist in the soft summer wind. The rising sun filters through it causing shadows and golden light to dance in sweet harmony. Through the glass I hear the songbirds greet the coming day.

This window looks out on a wizened old man who needs a helping hand after a family disaster. Behind him, bowed from years of serving others, a woman rubs her aching back. The young man squints in the morning sun searching for a stump to offer the old woman some rest.

Daily life can make me hardened. I see only flaws and disappointments. Anger tinges my rising sun with bitterness and hostility.

God often takes us into wilderness to change our perspective. He sends Hagar into the wilderness to tell her that he is still watching over her and her son. He sends Hosea’s wife into the wilderness to remind her that he is her first love. Moses wanders in the wilderness and sees that it is God who is leading. Jesus retreats to the wilderness to restore his energy and perspective.

Time with God spent in quiet solitude refocuses my vision. It allows me to see the same tree again, but to revel in its beauty and grace.

Changing your perspective can be as simple as looking out a different window. Spend time alone with God. And as the sun rises, let him pull back back the curtain.

 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.” Acts 17:24-28 ESV