As a kid, I only felt comfortable and competent enough to climb one tree. It was in the woods behind our house in Wilmington, Delaware. The branches were thick, and I’d go up and sit there for hours and observe. Apart from that, my experience with trees is limited.
I only think about them basically three times a year. I love early spring when a fresh hint of green begins to bud. I get scared of the summer hurricane season when trees could possibly plummet onto our house from high winds. But then I enjoy autumn when the mountains of western North Carolina burst with a kaleidoscope of color. I hate raking, though! The rest of the time, I essentially look right past them.
During a group devotion in Albany, Georgia, with Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains and Samaritan’s Purse volunteers, Nance Stelow—one of the chaplains—challenged us to think about trees in the Bible. Now that’s different, I thought.
We looked at trees because we were in Albany to assist homeowners recover from a powerful storm. Its straight-line winds toppled thick, monstrously tall trees throughout the area, damaging hundreds of homes.
God created trees on the third day of creation, Nance said. “And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9, NKJV).
Then she took us to a very familiar passage, Psalm 1:1-3: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (NKJV).
My mind then recalled one of my favorite verses. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7, NKJV).
Nance concluded her devotional talk with the Bible’s most important tree—the tree at Calvary, upon which Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, including mine.
As I met with homeowners for three days and heard their survival stories, our volunteers were sawing those massive trees that had crashed to the ground. I also saw evidence of trees plummeting onto houses. Amazingly, and miraculously, no one died in that storm.
Several of our talented team members had the incredible skill to form crosses out of those huge trunks. They were a wonderful reminder of how much God loves us, so much that He sent His beloved Son to die on an old rugged cross so that we can have a personal relationship with Him if we repent and trust Christ as Savior.
Wow, what a Savior!