Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Lessons Trees Teach

Today's walk began like any other.  I laced up my sneakers, put on a hooded sweatshirt to guard against the misty rain, pocketed my cars keys and cell phone and hit the trail.  I was a little disappointed there were no majestic birds or curious deer to see today.  All I came across were acres and acres of trees.  Every one the same stretching as far as the eye could see.

Or were they?  As I made my way through the woods I felt God speaking to my heart.  "The trees are representative of people.  Their personalities, attitudes, lives."  After that, I began noticing subtle differences and as I did, I saw the lessons in the trees.  As you look through these pictures, can you identify with any?  Which tree are you like?  Is God speaking to you through the stories the trees have to tell?

Some people try to stand alone.  They have pushed away the protective hedge of God's love and peace.  Why are you standing alone?  Anger?  Pride?  Insecurity?  You don't have to be in a solitary situation..  Unlike the tree rooted in one place, unable to move, you can choose to do as it says in James 4:8: Draw near to God...and He will draw near to you.

Some people are cliquish.  They surround themselves with like-minded people, but it's almost as bad as standing alone.  They tend to think of themselves as superior to others.  Psalm 1:1 says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers."

Hebrews 12:1 cautions "Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Are you ensnared and entangled in sin?  Does it have such a grip on your life that it's becoming difficult to separate it from who you are?

It may be slowly, insidiously becoming part of your framework or the ugliness of what you think you're hiding in your soul may be obvious to everyone around you.  2 Peter 2:19b "For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him."

Perhaps you're mired in circumstances.  Life is one big swamp, and the water's edge is creeping up.  You feel if one more thing goes wrong, you may just start drowning.  It's not anything you've done necessarily, it's just life.  Psalm 40:1 & 2 promises "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire."

Or maybe, everyone around you seems to be enjoying life.  They seem renewed, blossoming, growing...it just doesn't seem fair.  You know they aren't living a godly life, and yet it appears that all is going well for them.  By contrast, you love God, you try to walk in His ways, but you're in a season where you feel dried up, dead, and you're barely hanging on.   Psalm 73 addresses this.  In verses 2 -4 it says "But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles, their bodies are healthy and strong."  Further on the psalmist laments in verse 13 "Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence."  But by verse 16-17 he sees the truth "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood their final destiny.  Surely you place them on slippery ground, you cast them down to ruin."  Finally in verses 27 & 28 it says this "Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.  But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."

When you find yourself in an unpleasant situation like that, how do you react?  Are your words life affirming and sweet like honeysuckle despite how you're feeling?  Or harsh and critical?  Does your thorny demeanor make people run in the other direction?  Proverbs 15:1 says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

And when you see someone falling, do you come alongside and bear them up?  Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." 

When we are not rooted in the Word, and the full force of life's fury comes against us, it can be easy to get knocked off our feet.  We may be tempted to believe false teachings which  twist God's truth to try to form a new truth  But it leads nowhere and bears no fruit.  However, when we keep our focus heavenward, we become unshakable in our certainly of what and whose we are.  Single-minded in purpose, growing in His strength and power.  Psalm 1:3 says "He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields his fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, whatever he does prospers."
When I listened to the simple prompting of the Spirit to look beyond the surface of sameness, I was blessed by what I came across.  I invite you to discover some insights for yourself - there's so much more than I've shared here.  The next time you walk in or past a grove of trees, look at them.  REALLY look.  Marvel at the variation in the shades of green and diverse shape of their leaves.  Notice the patterns of the bark, the health of the trunk.  Like the people in your life, they are all different, and yet, God created and loves each of them.  The trees have lessons to teach, but above all, they speak to the majesty, creativity and glory of God.


  1. Oh, I love to ponder and photograph trees...so many things God reveals to us in this classroom of Creation of His. Wonderful insights, Toni!

  2. Thanks Dawn...it's so true. I have always loved learning, and Creation is a far more interesting classroom than I've ever been in! From beach girls to tree photogs - we have much in common, don't we?

  3. I have been doing just that lately on my walks thru my neighborhood, near Kate's school and the development behind Central. It's amazing what you can truly see and yes -- the lessons.

    Thanks for these lessons here. Awesome, Toni.