“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is
pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”
The earth has more trees than we have numbers–and that’s if we only consider those alive today! The total number since creation is beyond mind boggling. Even so, I want to mention a few particular trees that bring back some simple memories. Of course, some trees of the past have eternal significance. And then, there is a water oak in our yard that has a story all its own and I hope you will stick around and let me share it with you.
Many of you have have a green thumb. Everything you plant thrives. Most of my plantings don’t do so well, but here are a few that miraculously made it!
We had moved into our house and had a little dirt for a yard and no shrubbery. It was 1979. A guy we knew had planted some trees and shrubs and had a leftover magnolia he didn’t think would make it so he offered it to us if I’d come pick it up. I went after it. Honestly, it was like the tree mentioned in the Bobby Goldsboro tune, “Honey”…”The first day that she planted, it was just a twig”.
Many years ago a friend and I did some deer hunting in Coosa County, Alabama. While walking out one day I spotted a very small tree with green leaves still hanging on, even in the winter. It was a holly, and I thought our yard needed one. I have no idea how I dug it up–a shovel is not a normal part of my hunting gear. I even forgot I had it for several days but finally dug a small hole and threw it in!
We had always heard about the fall beauty of the maple tree. We had no maples on our place so when I found a close-out sale, buy two get one free – I couldn’t resist! Maples grow slow, so this Sugar Maple has been out front a long time now.
This water oak is not just another tree. In the summer of ’98, a heartbreaking tragedy hit close to home. Our neighbor and long time friends lost their son in an accident, on a Sunday afternoon, a few days before his 16th birthday.
A few weeks later, as summer was fading, I was in front of our house pulling weeds and spreading bark, preparing for cold weather. As I reached down, I noticed a small plant, maybe 3 inches tall, that I knew was a little oak that had sprang to life that summer. Instead of pulling it up, my thoughts at that moment caused me to just sit down and reflect on that summer. I was on the ground and looking out across the front toward my neighbors. After a few minutes, I located a shovel, dug up the new oak, and took it down into the yard and replanted it. In my mind I gave the tree a name. But, I told no one for a very long time. You see, I was afraid it wouldn’t live, or if it did, maybe a storm would later blow it over, or a disease would claim it.
I named the tree the “Lance Oak”. As you can see, the tree is alive and well, and is now 16 years old. Life is so fragile. I know it’s only a tree. And yes, wind may blow it away tomorrow. But, as I’ve mowed our yard a few hundred times over these last 16 years, there’s probably not been a single time, while mowing near this tree, that I haven’t thought of Lance and been reminded to pray for my neighbor.
Interesting – today I found this little water oak. About 3 inches tall, and growing not far from the “Lance Oak”.
I close with this. The first trees were in the Garden of Eden. God said all were good for fruit–except one. If you eat of it, you will surely die. He wasn’t kidding. He is God. They ate and we all die. But some time later, there was another tree. A cross was made from it. An innocent man was crucified on it. The man was Jesus. God said, believe on Jesus and trust Him, and you will surely live. He wasn’t kidding. He is God and this was His Son. The Tree of Life.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed”
1 Peter 2:24
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