I’ve been leading a ladies Bible study, with what I call, a twist. We are following Priscilla Shirer’s “One In a Million”, with the added fun of Bible journaling thrown in. We are learning to use journaling as a way to connect to God’s scripture, and what he is saying to us. Last week, I introduced a tree. A simple tree can mean so many things to so many people. Of course, I didn’t realize that until God blessed me with a room full of women, who were open and willing to sharing their hearts.
Two weeks ago I simply shared my drawing. My tree inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest. I walked the ladies through the steps of drawing the trunk, adding a heart…our heart, and then adding leaves. My challenge to them was to spend time praying as they drew each leaf. The purpose of drawing the tree was to spend time growing in our prayer life with the Lord. I shared with them an image of the tree that a dear pastor in my life had shared when I was facing a difficult time. He said that our experiences etch our tree trunk. They don’t kill the tree, rather they shape it. The trunk may be twisted, have knots in it, or consist of deep scars. Those etchings in the trunk make that tree beautiful. Our life experiences etch our trunks in the same way. That always stayed deep within me, and as we discussed deliverance, acceptance of ourselves, and a desire to hear from God, it seems appropriate to share that each of our trees will be different…as our lives have been different.
Off they went, each with their own idea of what their tree might look like. Off I went assuming that they would all produce a pretty tree. I looked forward to the colors that would be present, and how full each made their canopy, never truly being prepared for how deep the “tree” exercise would run. I certainly wasn’t prepared for how God would use the trees to represent our relationships with him.
Tonight we all came together, ready to get in the word. Ready to discuss the week past and what God had shown us. I cheerfully perched myself on my stool, and began our usual wrap up from the week of daily study. Then, one of the ladies mentioned her tree. She had forgotten hers at home, but enjoyed the exercise. Another opened her sketch book like it was engraven with the finest gold. Her tree told a beautiful story. It contained several leaves which were blue in color, surrounded by a canopy of green. Her tree trunk showed many deep lines. Her trunk was etched…and beautiful. She then went on to explain the significance of her tree. Each blue leaf was significant of someone special she had lost in her life. Represented were her parents, her brother, and her husband. All folks so important to her, taken too soon. The lesson represented was that God carried her through each loss. They etched her trunk, but God provided the water for her tree to continue to grow. It was beautiful. That simple drawing of a tree told a mighty story.
Another sweet friend in the room appeared distraught…visibly upset over mention of the tree. She exclaimed, “My tree is dead! I drew a dead tree!” She went on to explain she didn’t know what the problem was, but each time she sat down to put a leaf on the tree she became angry. She was only able to put 2 leaves on the tree, and then had to stop because the anger was too great. Thus, her tree was nothing but limbs. A dead tree.
It could only have been the Holy Spirit who gave me the direction next. Believe me, I was surprised as it came out of my mouth! I said, “Your tree isn’t dead, it’s dormant.” A dormant tree looses it’s leaves, but never truly dies. Sometimes, it’s seeking water. Sometimes, warmer weather. Yet, that tree stands firmly in the ground, ready and waiting for what will happen next. It waits for what will awaken it from it’s slumber, and make it bloom again.
This sweet friend spoke about her feelings of needing to be fed. She was lacking the fullness the Holy Spirit provides during times of worship and during times of prayer. She was frustrated, and this stupid tree just added to her frustration. That presumably dead tree was representing her sweet life. Her heart was present, but her fruit…those leaves, they had all fallen off. That tree, and her life needed Living water. The water that fills you and sustains you even in the driest wilderness.
God brought Jeremiah 17:8 to my mind. “They will be like a tree planted by the water than sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” My friend’s tree was not showing leaves, but it most certainly is bearing fruit. Fruit that comes from making yourself vulnerable in a room full of ladies who feel the same way. Fruit that comes from telling God how desperately you need him to stir your heart so that you can experience him. Even in a draught…when that tree appears dead…it’s bearing fruit.
If you are dry, your leaves have fallen off, and you feel dead; maybe you just need to trust that the Living Water will send water to your roots. Trust that even when you think you have nothing to share, you truly bear fruit. My friends, I will never look at a picture of a tree the same again. That tree has quite a story to tell.