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The Rich, Full Life of a Tree

I like trees, always have. I’m fascinated by them. This past weekend, our daughter Ellie got married under a 200 year old oak tree. It was beautiful ceremony with just us, Jared’s parents, and their closest friends. But not only beautiful, it was significant, because it was under the cascading branches of this beautiful tree. It was an amazing celebration fo life. Everyone present felt it: it was one of those moments where life felt rich and full.

I think trees have a lot to teach us about leading a life that is rich and full. Here’s just a few examples:

- Trees never stop growing. They grow tall and wide. Throughout their life, they continue to reach towards the sky, and extend their branches in all directions.

- Trees produce fruit for others to enjoy. Apples, oranges, pecans, almonds, the amazing avocado, you name it, if you eat it and like it, there’s a good chance it was produced by a tree.

- Trees give shade and comfort when it’s hot, and shelter to the vulnerable. Even in the sweltering Texas’ summer sun, when you step under the canopy of a lush oak, the temperature instantly drops and you feel relief from the heat. And the pecan tree in our backyard is home to several families of squirrels, a red-headed woodpecker, a fairly aggressive mother blue jay, and I’m sure all manner of other creatures. Trees provide a safe stronghold for these vulnerable animals, getting them off the ground and out of the reach of their natural predators.

- Trees are able to withstand mighty storms because of their deep, complex roots. We get frequent thunderstorms here in Texas, and I always marvel at the sturdy oak trees that tower over our house swaying in the powerful winds, unwilling to fall. They are able to withstand the storm only because they have a solid foundation, deeply dug and strengthened with time.

- Trees renew themselves with the seasons. After a productive summer, they let their leaves fall in the autumn, then rest and replenish through the winter, in order to burst forth with new life in the Spring. Trees seem to know this rhythm of renewal is essential to their health and productivity.

- And in the spring — along with their delicious fruit — they produce seeds that will give life to the next generation. The one, single tree won’t last forever, but it’s legacy and inheritance can last for generations.

- And even when the tree is gone, its very being is taken as lumber and formed and shaped into useful, beautiful things: from houses to furniture, and everything in between. Those beautiful things formed out of the tree take on purpose and meaning all their own, giving the tree a lasting significance that continues to bless others for years to come.

- How does a tree do all these things? I think it has to do with where the tree gets its nourishment: from water and light, two things that Jesus used to describe himself. He is the light of the world, and living water; and he came that we might have LIFE to the FULL.

So there it is: a rich, full life:

- Never stop growing

- Produce fruit to benefit others

- Provide shade and comfort to others

- Give shelter to the vulnerable

- Anchor yourself with deep roots to withstand any storm

- Renew yourself with the seasons

- Sow seeds to grow the next generation

- Leave a lasting legacy and inheritance

- Find your nourishment and fuel in Jesus

I think I’m going to go plant a tree. And try to live like one.

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