The phrase Holy Week refers to the seven full days of reflection, meditation, confession, silence, contemplation, forgiveness, love and spiritual activities that capture the feelings of devotion and love for our Lord. Remembering these events strengthen our souls of which at times have become weakened by life’s trials and tribulations. This week, for those of us who are followers of Christ, we look back on these events not to relive the grief, sadness and morbidity, but to renew our commitment to living on a higher plane, the one Jesus challenged us to live on. We recognise that the cross which was made from a tree holds the hope of our humanity.
You see trees are essential to our lives for several reasons. They provide us oxygen to breath, food to eat, medicine to heal, tools to build with and shelters to live in. Without trees, life as we know it would not exist. Believe it or not, trees are also essential in our relationship with God. In fact, the story of God’s great love for us is the story of three trees and the Gospels tell us all about them. Do you know the story of the three trees? It’s a story that can change your life if you are open to your life been changed and it’s a story of what your life can be if you let yourself be led on a road of openness to love, mercy, kindness, compassion and genuine care for each and every one of us and for all humanity.
The Three Trees
‘Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at these stars and said: “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I’ll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!” The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be travelling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world!” The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. “I don’t want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.”
Years, passed. The rain came, the sun shone and the little trees grew tall. One day three wood cutters climbed the mountain. The first wood cutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. “Now I shall make a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!” the first tree said. The second wood cutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong. It’s perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. “Now I shall sail mighty waters!” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!”
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last wood cutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the wood cutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me.” He muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when the wood cutter brought her to a carpenter’s shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, or treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the wood cutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and awed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the wood cutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumber yard. “What happened?” The once tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God…”
Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. “I wish I could make a cradle for him,” her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world. One evening a tired traveller and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveller fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awoke. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten wood pile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hand to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.
So, here is the conclusion of the story… The first tree, even though, he didn’t end up as a beautiful chest as he wished for, a real treasure—the king of kings—still slept in him. The second tree, even though he didn’t end up as the biggest boat ever as he wished for, again the king of kings had once stood on him and sailed across the seas. The third tree, the saddest of them all—just looked at him now. People look at him when they have hope and prayers. He stands tall for those who are in need and hopeful.
There are many things we can learn from this story. Every time we are troubled or disappointed because things don’t go the way we want them to be, we can always remember this story. Somehow, it made me believe that there’s always a rainbow waiting for us behind every storm that we have to pass. God knows your value; He sees your potential. You may not understand everything you are going through right now. But hold your head up high, knowing that God is in control and He has a great plan and purpose for your life. Your dreams may not have turned out exactly as you’d hoped, but God’s ways are better and higher than our ways. Even when everybody else rejects you, remember, God stands before you with His arms open wide. He always accepts you. He always confirms your value. You are His prized possession. No matter what you go through in life, no matter how many disappointments you suffer, your value in God’s eyes always remains the same. You will always be the apple of His eye. He will never give up on you, so don’t give up on yourself.
Thought for the week
As your thought for the week, the next time you feel down because you didn’t get what you wanted, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you. Happy Easter to everyone and may the future be bright for all of us.