I stood in the grocery line and wondered why the cashier was ignoring the customer…
A boy loves to spend time under a tree. He eats its apples. Swings from its branches and slides down its trunk. He takes naps in the tree’s shade. Day after day the boy romps around with a crown made of leaves playing king of the forest. Life is good. Until something changes, he changes.
As he gets older he wants more from the tree. He stops visiting the tree as often. When he does visit, he makes demands. He wants money, a house, a boat, a wife and a child. The loving tree gives the boy (now a man) apples, branches, and even its trunk. All of this he offered to the man for his use to obtain his desires. And the man took it all. Until the tree is just a stump.
The story ends with the man, old and worn out, finally resting on the stump of the tree.
This is a snippet of the classic picture book, The Giving Tree. One interpretation is that the story is one of selfless love, the tree gives everything to the boy. Another, is it’s a tale of an abusive relationship, the man is selfish and has no regard for the tree. A parody of the book has been created with this view titled The Taking Tree. Whichever interpretation one takes, it’s a story about relationships and about giving and receiving.
The tree loves the boy much like God loves each one of us; he’s all in giving everything, even his own son for our salvation. What abundance and sacrifice! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
In my twenties and thirties, I was a lot like the youngish man in this story. Filled with dreams, desires, and a bit of an attitude. I took God for granted for so many years. I didn’t spend quality time with him.
It took burning out for me to slow down and get real with God. During this time, I resolved to sit with the Lord each day for at least 30 minutes. I put a chair by my window. That’s when I noticed a big tree in the alleyway that had always been there but I had never taken much notice of.
Throughout the seasons I have watched the tree shed its leaves and become barren. I’ve seen it thrash in storms. I’ve heard crows being rowdy in it. I’ve seen a cardinal dash from its branch. I’ve seen the tree still and motionless. And now the tree is lush, full and green.
Throughout my healing process, God has been teaching me how abundant and good he is. No matter what season of life we are in, he is always present with us, waiting and desiring for us to be in communion with him.
I’d like to be more like the boy in the story. Trusting in the Lord’s providence. Expecting good gifts. Being a good steward of them. And taking the love I receive from him in abundance and sharing it with those I’m blessed to encounter. I’ve got ways to go but I understand now, this growth depends on quality time with the Lord, every day.
Psalm 23 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.”
Copyright 2023, Kim Griffin