Monday I planted a tree. A weeping willow. I envisioned this tree and mentally placed it in the ground last spring as we moved into our new home. In August I ordered it. It arrived Monday tucked inside a cardboard box with wet paper wrapped around the roots, a set of growing instructions, and a skinny green stake to be its ground partner and to hold it up through the wintery winds.
I probably should not have been so terribly excited to receive a little tree in the mail, but I was. And I am. Immediately I grabbed a shovel, whistled for the my outdoorsy dog companion, and trudged down toward our creek. I knew where this tree was supposed to go.
As I pushed the shovel into the earth, I was amazed at how soft the ground was... how it gave way to my design willingly with no resistance. It felt good to dig. Good to see the rich brown soil and the worms hiding therein. It felt RIGHT to tenderly unwrap the roots, to spread them, and to place them in the welcoming earth. As I knelt and pushed the dirt back into the hole, I used my hands just so I could feel the life and richness of my task. Fittingly, there were leaves all around... God-given mulch for the newly placed life.
I walked back to the house using my shovel as a walking stick and stopping periodically to pet and encourage my lion of a dog. As soon as I walked into my living room, I looked out the windows and sighed contentedly at the little stick of a tree sticking out of the ground about 100 yards from my house.
I smiled every time I walked past my window those first two days. Then, the rain came.
Lovely, I thought. Every newly planted tree needs to be watered.
Then the rain continued. The creek began to swell and I concern crept into my heart. After worrying about it for a time, I got on the phone and queried my husband. Should I remove it so that it doesn't get flooded? No, dear. Leave it alone. But the creek might sweep it away. Leave it alone.
I left it alone. For about 30 minutes. Then I threw on my husband's oversized farm jacket, trudged out to my shed, grabbed a shovel, and headed to the creek. A few minutes later I was standing next to the willow with my foot on the shovel, ready to dig, and I thought,
I can't do this. I cannot dig up this tree that I planted just a few days ago. I need to leave it alone.
What if it floods?
Well, what if?
I invested time and heart into this tree. All will be lost... and I hate when things are lost.
A still small voice kept saying, “Leave it alone.”
Maybe it was just the echo of my husband's advice. Maybe it was my own conscience. But maybe it was the LORD trying to teach me a lesson. I sighed heavily, blinked slowly, picked up my shovel and strode back up the field to my house.
So for the past three days I have been sitting in my warm living room, looking out across the gray, desolate sky, and watching the creek waters rise and rise. Fear rising with those waters. It is irrational, I know, to care so much about a simple leafless, dormant tree.
It is still raining. The water long ago covered the planting site of the tree. About 10 feet into the water I can see a little willow tree with its green garden stake sticking up defiantly out of the flood. Will it survive? I don't know. I guess I won't know until spring. The odds are not good. But the fact that it still stands offers me hope. As I watch the flood waters swirl around the stick of wood in the ground, as I watch debris pile up next to it and then get swept away by the current, I feel a deep sense of tension, of hope, of fear, and of triumph. At least it stands. At least it stands.
This week as I received news of sickness, death, and destruction touching people that I love. That poor, barren tree standing out of the water has been a beacon of hope for me. A symbol of letting go and leaving the outcome to a God who is great and GOOD. He told me to leave the tree where it was. He didn't tell me that it would survive. He didn't promise me anything. But, He has used it for my good. He has been Good and He will be Good regardless of my expectations or my outcomes. He will not let me control this life. No matter how many times I try to wrestle the reigns, He keeps whispering for me to let them go. Leave that tree where you planted it. The outcome is Mine.
“But now, this is what the Lord says--
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...”
Kristy L. Wheeler