A long time ago, a wise missionary woman told me this story…
A while back – 40, 50, 60+ years ago – there were two trees in a field. One had been lovingly planted in an area with rich topsoil. It was planted by hand, with great care, by a master gardener, who had been sure to add the proper amount of fertilizer before placing the seed in the ground. The other tree had happened to take root where its seed fell, among some fairly rocky soil.
As the seedlings began to emerge from the ground, the gardener faithfully tended his little sprout. He gave it plenty of the right kinds of food, watered it daily, and protected it from the elements. This seedling grew quickly, and soon was several feet tall. The gardener made certain to stake his young tree, so it would stand strong against the winds that always raked across the field in the coming season.
The other little seedling had no such care; no one showed it love or attention. By itself, it struggled to find the nutrition necessary among the rocky soil, and worked hard to find water to drink. It grew a couple of feet, but its growth was stunted by the lack of necessary nutrients and water. The harsh winds of the prairie tended to cause it to bend, or else break, so its appearance was somewhat bowed.
Years, decades passed. The gardener was faithful to his little tree, which had become a mighty oak. It towered above its forgotten cousin, with its crown branching out farther and higher every year. Its trunk was thick and healthy, with no scars from prairie fires or insect infestation. The gardener had done well, always protecting his beloved tree from all harm.
The other tree had added growth over the years, as well, though not as much; it, too, had branches that fanned out over the prairie, though the leaves weren’t quite as thick or green. The trunk showed scars from some prairie fires this tree had narrowly escaped being fuel for, as well as places where insects had eaten away supporting sections of trunk that the tree had covered over with scar tissue to strengthen. It was slightly misshapen, as well, bowed by years of harsh winds.
Both trees were happy with where they were; content with their lot.
The day came, however, when the first tree’s gardener no longer came to tend it. The first tree had to search for food in soil that had become more and more barren over the years, as drought overtook the land. Water was hard for it to find. The tree struggled to make it through a spring and summer, but somehow managed to survive. Autumn came, and with it the roaring winds. During the first windstorm, a gust of wind came over the prairie and – CRACK! – the tree came crashing down, its root system dangling from its sideways trunk. The roots… were short, and had never dug down deep into the earth. They had run right along under the surface, the better to absorb the nutrients from the fertilizer the gardener gave it, and the water with which the gardener watered it. This tree had never had to fend for itself; it had never had to search for what it needed, to grow strong roots in order to survive.
The other tree, the one that had never had the benefit of someone to protect it from harm, perceived no difference in the season. This tree noticed that there was a little less water than usual; it dugs its roots down deeper. When the devastating windstorm swept over the prairie, the tree clung to the ground with its vast, deep root system, and held firm.
Spring came again. Only one tree was visible standing on the prairie. It wasn’t quite as tall as it might have been, nor as widely branching; it didn’t look as nice as it might have, with scars all over its twisted trunk, but it was still standing.
The moral: Don’t think that, because you have to go through storms, trials, and tribulations, God doesn’t care about you. These things actually show just how much God cares for you – He wants you to grow your “roots” deep into the well of living water! It might be cliche but – you can’t have a testimony without a test! If you were protected from the majority of life’s little hurts, do you think you would be better equipped to stand against a big hurt, like a family member dying? Or losing everything you own in a natural disaster? Or maybe having a relationship with someone go very sour? Or, maybe, do you think that you would have only shallow roots to cling to, a relationship with God that has little substance? If that were so, and a big storm came along – might you fall?
Tests teach us to grow our roots deep into God, so that we will have a firm foundation to cling to when the big storms come along. The most important thing to remember is that God will never forsake us! Nothing, nothing, NOTHING can happen to us that we are not able to bear, as long as we lean on God!
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught , abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-9
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Cor. 12:9