In his book Why Do I Love These People?, award-winning author Po Bronson tells a story about an American Elm Tree in the town of Beulah, MI.
Keep reading. I think it will inspire you like it inspired me.
Bronson explains that in the 1950s, an iron chain surrounded the trunk of the elm tree, as a farmer kept a bull chained to the tree. Over the years, the tree developed a deep gash. It was a gash so severe that many people thought it would eventually kill the American Elm Tree.
That farmhouse eventually became home to a boy, who Bronson writes had an equally deep emotional scar. The boy's mom and sister had been killed by a drunk driver. When the boy's father remarried, according to Bronson's story, the father left the son at the farm with his grandparents.
As time went by, Dutch Elm Disease began killing all of the American Elm Trees in Beulah.
But not this particular tree.
Experts from Michigan State University came to see why only this particular American Elm Tree survived. They reached an interesting conclusion.
"The university crew had only one theory to offer. Somehow, this scar, this chain – which for years everyone thought was going to kill the tree – instead had saved the tree’s life. They suggested that by absorbing so much iron from the chain, the tree had become immune. To the boy, this offered a powerful metaphor. Perhaps his scar was not going to kill him, either. Perhaps someday, when everyone expected it to destroy him, it might save his life." (1) (Read the full story of the tree here.)
Recently, I've had my fair share of gashes. I have a bunch of circumstances that I wish I could change. It's been tough. Not only that, I've had conversations with a lot of other people who have been deeply gashed by life as well.
The good news for the Christ-follower is that when life gashes us (which the Bible promises will happen) it's never just random. God has a purpose in allowing what He allows. It's never arbitrary. It's not because God is powerless. And it's not because God is asleep on His throne.
The apostle Paul reminds us that God is working all things (even the really tough circumstances that gash us) out for our good. For proof of this, we need to look no further than the cross of Christ. God works out a plan of redemption for us through an extremely unjust and painful crucifixion of His Son.
You may be hurting deeply now (songs like the one in the video I posted above tend to help me in those times) but don't give up!!!!
I try to write these blogs as conversation-starters. I would love to hear how you relate to the story of The American Elm Tree.
Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (you can read guest blog post here), a father to five amazing kids, and a Young Life leader in his hometown of Staunton, VA. He has written for The News Leader, Rapzilla.com, VIBE, HipHopDX.com, Young Life Relationships and several other publications. Recently, Moody Publishers published his first book, You're Grounded, which you can read about here.
1. Bronson, Po, The Tree, pobronson.com, http://www.pobronson.com/WDILTP_Tree.htm, (accessed Oct. 29, 2013)