Monday, 13 July 2020

M Michele's Musings

The Oak

This morning I was admiring the beauty of a new day as I sat in my truck warming the engine.  My eyes fell upon the Oak tree that at one time had branches that filled the skyline of my backyard.  It was still beautiful, full of thriving green leaves yet it no longer reached to such soaring heights as it once had.

My thoughts led me back in time to when I would sit in my den and watch the tree change through the different seasons.   I loved to watch the tree in the spring as it brought forth new buds bursting out on its many limbs.  When summer rolled around I enjoyed the shade on hot humid days though I bemoaned the fact that not a blade of grass would grow underneath its mighty boughs.  In the fall I watched as the turning leaves fell gracefully to the ground making a blanket of multi-colored beauty that would crunch beneath my feet as I walked through the yard.  The winter brought a barren beauty to the Oak tree and often blew hard winds that brought down some of its lofty branches.  A much needed pruning that, at the close of winter, left me gathering and piling broken limbs high for many a day.

Looking through the paned glass of the comfy confines of my home I spent many quiet days watching the Oak through each passing year of seasons.  I watched the tree as it grew larger, mightier and more beautiful.  Then in September of 2005, Hurricane Rita devastated much of the Southwest Louisiana Gulf Coast.  Our home, land and trees were caught in the mighty torrent of unending wind and high water.  Due to high water, it was two weeks before we could go back home to see the damage that occurred on our property and even then we could not drive to the property.  We took a boat down our little lane to assess the damage and see what we could save.  As we approached I saw our house now standing out of the water, shifted and crooked with the door thrown wide open.  I looked up at the roof and it seemed to be intact but you could only see sky!   Where was the beautiful, glorious Oak tree that just weeks before filled the skyline high above the house?  I then noticed that our backyard was filled with all those high and lofty branches and limbs.  You couldn’t walk through them, they were so dense. 

It took many weekends of full days to cut those branches and limbs up.  It was hot and difficult work clearing the debris so that you could once again walk through the yard.  We made many heaps of piled high oak to give away as firewood.  The damage to the Oak was great; we were forced to cut the tree’s mighty branches almost down to the trunk.  No longer did the lofty branches stretch up as if to touch the sky.   The Oak looked a little funny, short and stocky with not a branch or limb extending its reach up to the skyline.   

When we were forced to make such drastic measures to save the tree I wasn’t sure if it would ever come back.  Many thought we should just cut it down to the base as we were forced to do to a few of the other oaks.  I, however, wanted to save the Oak tree if possible.  I loved this Oak.  It had a special place in my heart.  It was the tree my daughter and son-in-law pledged their marriage vows under in September of 2000.  I had watched it grow and change with each season of every year for 26 years.  As I reminisced and looked upon the Oak this morning I knew that our efforts to save the Oak were not in vain. The tree stood before me; perhaps not as beautiful or majestic as before, but strong and thriving.  A living testament to the fact that we were indeed successful in our endeavor to save the tree.          

This led my thoughts to life in general.  “Storms,” those unavoidable circumstances filled with hurt and destruction often come sweeping into our lives without warning.   The storms leave us devastated.  The broken battered pieces of our lives lay all around us, at our feet.  We look at the mess of our lives and wonder how in the world will we ever get back to some semblance of order and happiness once again.  We look at our overwhelming situations and wonder if there is any hope for us.  Is there any hope for the situation that has escalated out of control and left the devastating mess?  We begin to wonder if everyone has deserted us or if anyone still loves us.  We wonder if there is any way we can start over or get a second chance.  Foreboding thoughts fill our minds and hearts, leaving us lost in the misery of the destruction that has befallen us.  Sometimes thoughts become very real in our mind.  They begin to take root.  “I am alone.”  “I am lost.”  No one loves me.”  “I will never get a second chance.”  “I will never be happy again.”  “There is no hope for my situation.”

     Have you been there?  Are you there now?  Remember the tree.  It is a living testament that storms don’t always have the last say in our lives.  There is hope for you and any situation you find yourself in the midst of.  Every destructive storm in your life, whether through your own bad choices or the wrong, hurtful choices of others can be turned around for good.  Life can sprout forth yet again even from the most devastating circumstances.  Second chances can and do happen.  There is a God and He is the God of second chances.

            The answer to restoration after the storms lies within a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Life without Christ is like the brokenness of that Oak tree.  God always loves us.  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3b   However, we don’t have true understanding of the depth of His love or care that He has for us.  We can’t seem to grasp that He wants a real relationship with us.  God is in heaven and we are on earth.  Thoughts like, “How could I be important to Him?  Am I special enough that He would take notice?” permeate our minds.  God’s word counters these thoughts and tells us that we are loved, important and that He does care.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” John 3:16a  He lovingly watches, waits and reaches out to us as we walk along our chosen paths.  “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” Isaiah 53:6a   Jesus stands ready at the doorstep of our heart like a knight in shining armor waiting for us to ask Him in. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20  He can and will rescue. 

He never condemns but He loves, He forgives and He restores hope.  If we will ask Him, He will come in and begin to clean up the mess and pick up the broken pieces.   He will refresh, restore, rebuild and set us back in the right direction.  He can work the same results in our lives as He did in the Oak.   The Oak is once again flourishing, lifting beautiful lofty branches to the sky as if in praise for the second chance.  Sometimes the greatest act of worship is to simply lift our hearts in praise and trust Jesus to work in our life.  Will you trust Him today?  Will you allow Him to work in your life?  Will you let Him set you on that second chance pathway of new beginnings, fulfillment, freedom and hope?       

Love in Christ, Michele

P.S. Funny note about my "oak." I have since learned that the tree is an Elm and not an Oak! Someone who knew something about trees and told me that the tree was an Elm and probably why it did not fare well during the storm. Elms are very susceptible to disease and injury. No wonder there were no acorns!

Columnist: Michele Abshire

 

Michele Abshire is a housewife, mother, grandmother, and full time legal assistant. She has been published in Lake Charles, Louisiana publications, Christian Star Newspaper and Gumbeaux Magazine.  

Michele began writing notes of encouragement to people God put on her heart which led her in the direction of writing short encouraging stories, letters, essays and analogies.  This quickly became a ministry for her.  

Michele's vision is to reach people with encouraging messages that will lift their heart and bring joy for sorrow and hope for discouragement. Michele enjoys your feedback so leave a comment in the form at the bottom of the page or email her at  micheles.musings@gmail.com

 

 

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