Filling Our Tree With Love
The old oak tree looked fine. It was over 100 years old and stood tall and seemingly sturdy. People marveled at it’s beauty and yet one stormy night it came crashing down. A friend and his wife heard it at around 4 in the morning. They thought it was an earthquake the noise was so loud. Fifteen feet from the ground the tree shattered. Fortunately nobody was hurt as the once beautiful 70 foot tree became a 15 foot stump in the ground. The rest was lying there for all to see. The next morning it was alarming what was discovered. The insides of the tree that came down had been eaten away by a disease. It was hollow and could not stand the rigors of the wind that night.
My dad in addition to working a full time factory job and many hours of overtime found the time to build three houses. The only houses we lived in were ones that he built. Since he had never built a house before he took advice from an acquaintance who had built many of the houses in the neighborhood. The first and most important thing he learned was to build a deep foundation. It started with digging a basement that was deep and then using cement blocks to make the foundation strong. In all of his houses dad followed the same recipe. Above anything else that foundation was the thing that made the house sturdy and strong. With help from my mom they worked tireless with much faith in the process. After the strong foundation was set they went to the next process. He shared with me that it was one step at a time, one project at a time. They needed to be jacks of all trades in the process. What they didn’t know they got advice and learned what to do. It was a work in faith but it began with building that strong foundation. Although that first little house was not a sight of beauty to most it was strong and sturdy. That first house was the foundation of their faith to build another. This time the house would be bigger and better. Yet the other two houses were built on the faith they had acquired building the first one. Faith that told them that if they worked hard and believed it could be achieved.
At one time that oak tree had a good foundation. It was solid and healthy and looked like it would live forever. Then over time a tiny bit here and there things began to change. A disease got into that tree. Slowly it started chipping away. Even though the tree looked strong and healthy it was neither. Though it looked strong and sturdy it was really weak and brittle.
In our Christian walk we need to ask ourselves “How deep is our faith?” Is our foundation solid and strong? Like the oak tree many times our foundation is strong. The problem is we let little things chip away much like the disease in the tree. Instead of forgiving others of their trespasses like Jesus told us to do we try to hold them accountable. We become bitter when things are going right for them in spite of the wrong they caused us. Because we haven’t forgiven them of whatever they did our foundation slowly starts to rot. The good material that we started with gets poisoned in the mix. Instead of trusting God to take care of situations and leaving all of our burdens with him we become the sin police. We become revengeful and hateful. Before long we find that our faith in God and people are suddenly in doubt.
Is there someone who has hurt you? Is there someone that seems to glorify in the wrong they did to you? We all have people in our lives that are like that. However Jesus tells us to love our enemies. When we follow that commandment there is peace in our hearts and not bitterness. The disease is cured and we are able to move on in love and peace. The tree lives on and doesn’t die inside. In fact it grows stronger in time. Something like this is not easy. It is not natural to love our enemies. It is not natural to wish them well. However, it is not natural to die inside either. The quickest way to lose our life spiritually is to harbor hurt and bitterness. Send them on their way in the name of Jesus! Give God all of your burdens and forget about them. Love your neighbor even if your neighbor has done you wrong. In that way you are being like Christ because he died for us even though we didn’t deserve it.
Sometimes I drive through the old neighborhood. Since the three houses are on the same block I pass them all and marvel. Many memories come back of the things that we did and the fun we had. None of that would have been possible except for the sound houses we lived in. Most of all I marvel at the old houses still standing tall after all of these years. On the other side of the coin is the old oak tree that is no more.