Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

What Kind of Tree Would You Be?

lt was Kathryn Hepburn when faced with the question, If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? who responded that she would be, I believe, an oak tree. If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? I set out to ask a half dozen or so people that question. One, trying to decide whether she would be an evergreen or an oak, settled on being an evergreen tree. “Evergreen trees look alive all year round,” she stated, “In the winter they give shelter to all the little animals. Evergreen trees add beauty to the world when everything else looks dead, all brown and without color. It seems that there are signs of life with an evergreen tree, no matter what time of year it is.” Another person said she would probably be a peach tree. “Peach trees produce delicious fruit, and squirrels are all over it, trying to eat. I like peach trees. I like it when they bloom all over.” A third person stated she would be a cottonwood tree since “the seeds are all over.” She thought she would be where she needs to be and know what those she cared about were doing all the time. Another person said she would be a weeping cherry tree, that when it blooms, makes the world look like a fairyland. Someone from one of my churches struggled with the question out loud: Steady - I wouldn’t want to lose my leaves. Stubborn - what kind of tree is stubborn? I would like to be beautiful - a tree that would blossom, or just be. And everyone would like to be a tree that lives a long time. Then it suddenly came to her and she concluded with a shout - an apple tree! Apple trees give back something to the earth and humanity.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? And what would your purpose on earth be?

Betty Eadie in writing about her vision of heaven during a clinical death experience, tells about a garden that she explored. As she approached the river that wound through the garden, she noticed a rose near her that seemed to stand out from the other flowers. The rose swayed gently to faint music, and singing praises to the Lord with sweet tones of its own. Betty realized that she could actually see it growing. As it developed before her eyes, her spirit was moved, and she wanted to experience its life, to step into it, and feel its spirit. As this thought came to her, she seemed to be able to see down into it. It was as though her vision had become microscopic and allowed her to penetrate the rose’s deepest parts. Betty felt the rose’s presence around her, as if she were the flower. She tells that she felt the rose swaying to the music of all the other flowers, and she felt it creating its own music, a melody that perfectly harmonized with the thousands of other roses joining it. “I understood that the music in my flower came from its individual parts,” writes Betty, “That its petals produced their own tones, and that each intelligence within that petal was adding to its perfect notes, each working harmoniously for the overall effect – which was joy. My joy was absolutely full again! I felt God in the plant, in me, his love pouring into us. We were all one!

From Betty’s description it seems that each heavenly work of creation lives to praise God and bring joy into that world. As God created and cares for each part of creation, the flower or tree or heavenly being responds by living in honor of its creator. Being creatures of God mean that we carry a part of the master designer’s being within us. Just as the flowers of heaven honor God in this way, we earthly creatures are to live accordingly. Every product of God’s creative hands is meant to live in celebration of God, simply because we are. As trees provide food and shelter and beauty to our world, first and foremost, they are meant to praise God. Each flower that blooms in your garden is, first of all, meant to praise God. Every bird that glides through the air, every creature that swims in the sea, and every critter that walks upon the earth is primarily created to praise God.

That principle should pervade our very being, touching everything we say or do, and become a part of who we are. In the midst of the adversity that we often face, it is difficult to always praise God for the blessings he gives, not because God has abandoned us, but because hardship takes our focus off of God. However, the day of the Lord is at hand, even breaking into our lives at this very moment. We anticipate the day when a great reversal will come, and the hardships and adversity we face turn into abundant blessings and peace. Jesus came to bring about that new salvation and to tell us that the day of the Lord is at hand, breaking into out world now.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? I would be an olive tree. The first time I visited Israel in 1994, the church of all nations had the most powerful effect on me. Set in the “Garden of Gethsemane,” it is a calming place with a soft alabaster glow throughout. Posed against the white light of the entrance was the dark silhouette of an olive tree with its gnarled and twisted trunk and branches, having survived decades of hardship and distress. And yet the olive tree continues to bear fruit year after year, sometimes for centuries. The olive tree symbolized in the Church of All Nations spoke of the great agony that Christ experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. It told of strength that comes from facing great obstacles. And it told that one can continue to serve in ways that praise God throughout all the season of one’s life. If I were a tree, I would be an olive tree.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Blessings, Terry

9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684