"Dede's Walk With God"

The Bent Tree

I was lying in bed this morning thanking God for His healing and then praying for greater healing from some childhood damage I have often struggled to overcome.

I began thinking about how nice it would be if those events had never happened. But as I was praying about it, the thought came to me to "remember the bent tree".

The "bent tree" story is one I heard as a young boy when an elderly pastor was talking about it to his adult congregation. Being a "young tree" myself at the time, I didn't then fully understand the story. From my childhood memory, it goes like this:

A large family with several children had just moved to a home in the country. The children were delighted to discover that on the property there was a pond suitable for swimming. On a bank at the side of the pond a young oak tree was growing. The tree was so young that its trunk and branches were thin and quite flexible--not capable of supporting much weight.

The children discovered that with a running start they could make the thin branches swing and arc over the pond enough to drop in with a satisfying splash. They spent many happy summer hours playing in the pond and swinging from the tree. But after a few years they outgrew the pond and the tree was no longer used.

There was damage to the small tree, however. The branches and trunk had been bent and twisted and strained so much they were no longer straight as they had been before. The tree looked like it was crippled forever.

Time passed and 35 years later, the long-since grown children came together for a reunion in the area of their childhood. They asked the new owners of the property if they could explore once more the place they had grown up. And of course, they walked out to the pond.

In their mind's eye, they expected to see a spindly young oak at the side of the pond.

But things had changed.

What they saw was a large mature oak tree whose trunk and branches had become thick and massive. But through the solid branches they could still see the unnatural bend in the trunk they themselves had created--it had become part of the tree's character.

I think the story might have ended there as the pastor made the point that "as the twig is bent, so grows the tree". I think he was teaching that all of us, as parents and neighbors, affect the lives of our children and people around us in ways that can change their lives for good or bad forever.

But this morning, as I remembered the tree, I saw there is more to the story. Yes, the tree had been damaged and bent. But where there had been damage and weakness there was now massive strength and attractive character. The curving trunk and branches arching over the pond could no longer be moved. In fact, the tree now provided stability to the bank on which it grew and extra shade over the pond for comfort to others. A new rope had been hung from the now solid branch for a new generation of children to swing over the water.

It was as if the Lord was telling me that I was praying for the healing He had started long ago. And the healing He often chooses is turning weakness and damage into strength and character that may be used by Him to provide support, comfort and teaching to others. Yet the healing I had been praying for was to "make it as if it never happened."

Thinking about the bent tree helped me understand a little more what the Lord has told us before--that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

When I realized that He has been healing me all along, I saw that my prayer for healing needs to change--not so much that He will make it as though some pain in life had never happened, but that His strength will be all the more manifest-- because of it.



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