Are you losing strength…feeling beat-up and overwhelmed?
I can remember a time like that in my life. God provided a gift of grace after a speaking assignment. I was able to go for a walk in a redwood forest. Some of these redwoods were 2,500 years old, meaning they were around when Jesus walked the earth. The size was incredible. It was the kind of upward gaze that leaves you with a crick in your neck. Redwoods can grow to 360 feet tall, and some are 16-18 feet in diameter. Together, these fabulous creations create a canopy that results in a cathedral feel in the forest. In this outdoor church, there is a vibrancy of flora, sunrays, fog rising up, birds whistling, and squirrels playing, yet a stillness that compels attention to the voice of God.
“What would God say to me?”
I wondered. I reveled in the tenacity of a tree that could survive twenty-five centuries. I admired the thick bark that created an almost fireproof shell. My initial reaction was that it seemed nothing could hurt a redwood. How wrong I was! The end of my journey in “redwood land” concluded with a downed redwood with its inner rings exposed. This tree was illustrative of every tree in the forest. Some rings showed years of great growth. Others revealed years of drought and insect infestations. There was a spot that disclosed an almost devastating forest fire and another spot that declared a lightning strike. Light rings revealed good times which were the growth years. Dark rings were the hard times which produced strength.
Scrutinizing the rings shows the reality of the ups and downs of life. If we could look inside at the rings of our lives, much would be revealed. Our stories may include dark rings of tragedy, hardship, suffering, loss, grief, sadness, and doubt. The rings may likewise show rings of growth, prosperity, gladness, and fruitfulness. It is interesting how often suffering is the instrument God uses to prompt a growth spurt. God is at work growing us up. It’s hard to speed up the process if our goal is His goal.
If you want to take a shortcut, just remember that He can grow a squash in a few short months. But it takes a long time to grow a redwood. Your choice: redwood or squash.
Dr. Michael Sprague is the Louisiana State Chaplain with the Capitol Commission and President of Grace Adventures. Michael does life with his wonderful wife Donna and resides in Mandeville, LA. His motto is “Bet the Farm on God.” You can find more information about Michael here.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Freely Photos