Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
A bit more than a year ago, October 16, 2018 to be exact, I wrote an article I called, “How Do You Keep a Tree From Dying?” The inspiration for that article was a large white pine tree which is a prominent feature of our front yard. At that time, the tree appeared to be dying. Its needles were turning brown and falling off, wholesale. I mentioned then that I had inquired of others, and several agreed with me, that the tree had reached the end of its life; I couldn’t bear to think of loosing that tree.
Well, from where I typically sit to write, I can look out my front window, and that pine tree still fills my whole view. It is as full of needles as it could be and looking as healthy as any I have seen. To see this tree in all its splendor, I have to walk out to the edge of my porch, lean out and look upward about 80 to100 feet. Better yet, I could walk the hundred yards of my driveway and look back to where I can see this tree in its full height and breadth. Did I say, it is a particularly beautiful tree? And its still alive!
All through last winter, I kept thinking that I would have to get someone to cut it down for me, yet my spirit kept saying, “Don’t get hasty, let’s see what God is doing.” And sure enough, when spring came, even while more dry needles were falling off, the new growth was evident and new needles began to replace the old ones. A few days ago, I had walked to the mailbox and, as I was returning, I stopped to enjoy the woodland surroundings (okay, I had to catch my breath) when, once again, my eyes focused on this tree. I thought I heard it whisper. “I’m still here!”
But then, maybe it wasn’t the tree I was hearing at all. Instead, it could have been the Lord speaking to me, reminding me of that truth. You see, it has not been a particularly good year for me, or for that matter, for many around me in regard to human life and times. Perhaps many of us are experiencing similar situations. I am rapidly approaching the end of my 7th decade and I seem to be spending far too many hours visiting folks in hospitals and funeral homes. I am a semi-retired priest and the majority of church services I have celebrated recently have been funerals and life memorials. These are sad times for the families involved, yet they are also times when the Lord reminds us that He is still here.
In that October 2018 message, I drew from the Book of Job where God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” This being part of a strong reminder that God is in charge and He has His purpose. If we keep our faith in Him, we will one day understand. We will be with Him for eternity.
Today, I am again reminded of the faithfulness of God. (He heard my cries and restored one single tree, perhaps for no other reason than He loves me.) In this event, I also hear the voice of Lord reminding me of the timelessness of God, that “to everything there is a season;” (Eccl. 3) and He hasn’t asked me to be in charge of this or any season. He does allow me to enjoy them.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, I can’t predict how long my pine tree will continue to stand erect to welcome me each morning. Current indications are that it will be for the rest of my life and beyond. Yet it could be no longer than the next windstorm. One thing I am quite certain of is that, whenever I am able to humble myself before him and continue to acknowledge that He is Lord of my life, and when I am able to listen, I will hear His comforting voice proclaiming, “I am still here.” And that is sufficient for me!