Sometimes I feel like one of the fallen. I can identify with the blows of life that hacked at my roots, tore at my trunk and took out huge chips and pieces to the point of causing me to fall. My family can identify with this analogy as well. The past few years in my family have been much like this. I would say that my family proper as well as my siblings and parents have felt the axe blows in so many parts of our life that many of us “fell”. Stopped in our tracks, “man down!”
I reckon many of you know this as well. Life can be hard, ruthless at times, like a ferocious storm blowing in unexpectedly and thrashing at any moving thing in its path. You are left breathless, scared and often broken as the storm moves over you, ignoring you, your pain and continues on its way to induce havoc on some other unsuspecting souls. You are left standing looking around at what had once been your life, whole and complete, now lying in jagged pieces that you have no way to even navigate, if even you had the strength to.
I read a phrase today that touched off my thoughts about trees and brought this picture to mind. The above picture is of a “tree” – singular. We have no idea because of the angle of the camera if there are other trees around but I would assume that if one tree grew there, there are others.
The phrase that touched me today was, and sorry I am paraphrasing because I cannot find it again: “looking out at the forest, your eyes see each tree a singular entity in the forest of green, but underneath the ground all the roots in the forest are entwined and linked together. That is why in a grove of trees, if one tree gets sick, all the trees in the grove or forest get sick.” Charles Martin, Long Way Gone
I thought of the mountain pine beetle, and the swath of reddened needles on dying trees and how the trees were connected, not just by the beetle but by their roots. The destruction is widespread.
When we as individuals go down, the result has effects on the forest around us, the people in our orbit if you will. On the surface we look like we are standing there on our own, steadfast in our own strength but beneath the surface we, as people, are intertwined, roots laced together, helping and feeding off each other. When one of us suffers, the people around us suffer. How can we as people make sure we do not bring the whole forest down? How can we be a “man down” and still have a positive impact on those surrounding us?
Like this picture, the new saplings growing up strong and at first glance individually, are actually feeding on the nutrients of the fallen tree. Linked together for nourishment.
God excels in these types of situations, these are His specialty. He orchestrates people around us, much like livestock at a feeding trough, to both help us and grow off us.
A dead tree in nature can feed others; flower bulbs, those dead brown lumps bloom in the spring into welcome bursts of color. Seed potatoes look like lumps of gross, hairy creatures from outer space, but they grow into plants that can feed families. Horse, sheep, cow manure – the waste products of animals is excellent fertilizer that causes plants to thrive not just grow. So many analogy’s come to mind of the dead and dying giving nourishment to the next generation.
Jesus himself, said that unless He went away we could not receive the Counsellor (the Holy Spirit) He would send us. What looked like a tragedy on the cross was actually the beginning of a new era between God and His people.
Your life can bring nourishment to so many, it can feed, encourage and bless others. Your trial, your dark period is not life ending, it is not over, it is just the beginning, because hinging on your life are the plants and trees of tomorrow.