I often encounter people who are looking for their purpose in life or they are wondering the next step in their lives. Many of them are really wondering if it’s time for them to move on. They are wondering if they need to walk away from a current relationship, a job, or a friendship that seems to be more draining than friendly. I’ve been in similar situations asking myself, “Why am I here?” “Is it worth it?” “I can do better than this, right?” I’ve been tempted to give up on my dreams or give up on people in my life. But every time I am tempted to quit or encounter someone who talks about giving up, I usually think about trees. I know. Weird, huh? I guess that’s why I often paint trees.
I started this painting earlier last week and left it to dry. For the next three days I walked by it and thought, “This needs something.” I couldn’t figure out what to add. I rarely paint unless I feel inspired and when I do, I am either listening to worship music or there is a song playing in my thoughts. I left the painting alone until today.
This morning at church the minster used a mangrove tree as a metaphor in his message. He described the mangrove tree as an unusual tree that grows in unusual conditions. The tree grows in salt water, can survive strong winds from tropical weather, and when water levels are high from flooding or low in times of drought, it still stands. I was intrigued and Googled “mangrove tree” to look for pictures. I discovered that the tree has a strong root system and often times is the life source for new trees.
I was so inspired by the message that when I got home, I added mangrove trees to my painting. It’s amazing what God uses to teach us lessons. I don’t know if I have ever seen a mangrove tree, but I know that there is a lesson to learn from knowing about it.
The mangrove tree growing in salt waters makes me think of the negative people in our lives. Instead of letting them discourage us, let’s look at them as inspiration to count our blessings. The wind blowing on the trees makes me think of the negative self-talk we might have. Instead of thinking “this is impossible”, let’s remember that with God all things are possible to those who believe. When the wind blows on trees they aren’t silent, the branches and leaves are waving and making natural music. We should listen for songs in the wind of the Holy Spirit in our lives and let’s remember to sing to the Lord during tough times. The root system is our memory. The roots continue to grow even in salty soil. The salt doesn’t kill the roots like it would in other trees. Instead of becoming bitter because of our pains and hurts, let’s use what we endure and overcome as a reminder of where we’ve been and remember to forgive those who may contribute to our difficulty. We must forgive in order to be forgiven (Matthew 6:15). Having a root of bitterness can hinder our growth. Finally, the water levels are our life situations. There are times when it seems like one stressful thing after another comes upon us. We feel overwhelmed or like we are drowning. Then there are other times when we feel lonely or abandoned. We may even feel left out when others seem to be enjoying their season of blessing. I’m thinking that the branches of the mangrove tree are still stretched out during drought or flood, and so should we. We can always find a reason to praise the Lord. Let’s stretch out our hands in praise. This may be the only exercise some of us gets!
In closing, when we as Christians are facing difficult times, we need to remember that we have everything we need to overcome. God has provided us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness in Christ Jesus (2Peter 1:3). Instead or running from our difficulties or expecting to be rescued from them, there are times when we need to just stand and allow the Lord to do the work in us that fulfills His purpose for our lives.
I pray that your week will be blessed, that your leaves do not wither, and that you bring forth much fruit. I also pray that the love of God will be in you always and that you love others with that same love.
Have a great week!