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Lessons from a Lifeless Tree
The Lifeless Tree
I have always wanted an artificial tree. When I saw them at other’s homes, I longed for one of my own. One day, a friend told me that she had an artificial tree from her daughter’s wedding she wanted to give away and asked if I knew anyone who might like to have it. I told her that I would!
She went to her home, picked it up, and put it in my car while I was at a church meeting. When I took the tree out of my car and put it in my home, I was keenly disappointed. It appeared lopsided, overly tall on one side, and short on the other. I pushed aside my feelings and parked the tree in the living room, saying to myself, “You'll get used to it.”
Several weeks went by and I cleaned around the tree, dusting, vacuuming, and rearranging. One day, I realized that if I wanted the tree to look better, I would have to dust it. Though I knew the task would be tedious and time consuming, I felt I was up to it. I obtained a soft, damp cloth and began to stroke one of the branches full of leaves, but the layer of dust only became streaked.
Annoyed, I decided that if I was going to do this at all, I was going to do it right! I picked up a lone leaf and gently wiped the dust from its surface. As I did so, the eyes of my understanding were opened. The leave curled around the shape of my hand. As I released it from my grasp, it retained its newly formed shape, that of a real leaf.
I did the same thing with another leaf, and another, until I had dusted an entire branch of leaves. A miracle occurred; the branch now had a beautiful curve, as if it were real. Branch after branch, I came to know the tree. Some of the branches were meant to go one way, and some another. Each seemed to have its place on the tree where it looked best. I could mold and shape the branches as I came to understand their purpose and place on the tree.
Tears filled my eyes as lessons from life filled my mind. Each leaf was like an individual person, unique in shape, size, purpose, and need. Some leaves required me to open them before wiping with the cloth while others, upside down or flat, simply needed to be softly caressed.
Just as touching and caressing each leaf unveiled the full potential of the tree, getting to know people individually allows us to see their purpose in God’s plan. Scriptures came to mind about the vineyard, the care and keeping of the individual plants, and how the Lord wept when they did not achieve their divine potential.
My arms, shoulders and back began to ache as I went up higher in the tree. How could I stop? Which leaf was not so important that it could be left out? Surely I could endure to the end! There were just a few more branches! I obtained a step stool that allowed me to climb higher to reach those on the top. One branch sticking straight up was all that was left. As I reached and held it in my hand, there was no dust! Had I already dusted it? Perhaps.
The phrase came to mind, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Matt. 25:21). As I stepped away from the tree, I saw that it had taken on a new life all its own. It was no longer a lifeless, lopsided bunch of leaves, but a beautiful work of art!
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