Attention

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

            Old trees fascinate. After enduring seasons of brutal weather that battered them relentlessly, they stand at attention like proud soldiers safeguarding their assigned post. Knobby branches extend skyward in salute; solid roots balance them like boots on the ground.

Ancient trees hold stories as varied as the ridges running across their bark. Passersby tossed them juicy bits of conversation as they casually strolled beneath their leafy limbs. Lovers carved initials in their trunks and made promises within the canopy of their shaded perch. Maneuvering one leg effortlessly over the other, children scampered across their branches and hid out in tree tops. There they concocted daring adventures and tomorrow’s escapades until the sun went down and voices called them home.

Generous friends that lend us shade, trees deliver protection from the onslaught of daylight’s blaze. Drab birds cluster in their branches, and brightly-colored feathered ones flit about, perching for a respite before flying off again. Trees cradle nests in the crook of their arm for safekeeping till springtime rolls around.

Yet beyond any other contribution, trees provide a poignant, visual reminder of a vital principle running through Scripture. The psalms depict a man or a woman who finds “delight” in God’s laws as being like a robust tree that yields abundant fruit in a variety of seasons. God challenges us to be like trees “planted by streams of water” who will thrive in every season by drawing strength and vitality from his Word. To think, process, and apply God’s Word to our lives, to understand that Scripture is a joy to be relished, will allow us to develop like fruitful trees with plentiful leaves that do not wither or want (See Psalms 1:2-3).

Every good gift comes from the gracious hand of our great God, and trees display one example of his generosity toward us. Poised at the corner, beautifying a park, jammed together in a wooded enclave, and every setting in between, trees stand before us as evidence that our Father delights in granting us far more than we deserve.

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (Psalm 92:12-15).

Elizabeth Karram Mitchell

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