Friday, March 6, 2020

Trees and Life

[Originally published in the Monroe News on March 6, 2020]

I was out walking in the woods and snow near my house the other day.  Its something I very much like to do.  I’m an avid hiker and backpacker and would hit the trails and be amongst the trees often if I had the time.  There is something about being out in nature and being amongst all of these growing things that breathes life into one’s soul.  

Trees can play a big part in life’s story.  How many of us can remember that one tree in our yard with which we spent so much time growing up?  Perhaps it was the shade tree under which we would sit and read a book.  Maybe it was the climbing tree or the tree from which hung a swing for us to play.  I had a red maple tree in my backyard growing up.  It was the tree that looked like it was lit on fire every autumn with beautiful red leaves which filled the yard up with beauty for a few weeks.  Trees are right in the midst of our memories and they help us see the passage of time and this life.  You might just say trees are a symbol and sign of life.

Just recently in my congregation at Grace we started a sermon series talking about the trees of the Bible.  It is already looking to be a fascinating way to look deeper into the Scriptures.  The series is centered upon the two most pivotal trees in all of human history.  One is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which was placed in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time. God forbade mankind to eat of it, and yet they still did.  It was the temptation at the tree by the devil through which mankind sinned and brought the world into its fallen state.  The other tree is that of the cross of Jesus.  This is the “tree” by which Jesus Christ paid the price of sin, dying for all humanity, and so brought life and salvation.  Its a fascinating juxtaposition the Scriptures put before us of two trees, of two men, and the opposite directions they send the fate of humanity in history.

Who knew that our history could be so centered around two different trees now found in the depths of history.  You might say the great influence trees have placed in our past is still recognized in their strength and resilience today.  In many ways trees are signs of immovable forces.  They can weather great storms and all seasons of weather.  Many trees like the great sequoias of the west can even survive terrible forest fires.  For us to marvel at the strength and the life of trees is to look deeper into our own lives.

When I was a young boy I learned firsthand just how strong and immovable trees can be.  I was at my Grandparent’s house in the fine state of Indiana and we were playing baseball out in the backyard.  I was in the outfield and a pop fly was hit my way.  In my wayward fashion I kept eyes on the ball tracking it down as it flew not realizing my track led me right into an oak tree.  Ouch.  My small stature wasn’t enough to even make that tree move.  The bruises I received in turn were a firm reminder of the strength of that tree.

What if we sought out to make our own lives more like the trees around us.  They are strong, they are resilient, they are full of life.  Trees are built upon their roots which dig deep foundations.  Our lives likewise need deep foundations.  As a Christian I see these foundations in the Bible and in our Savior Jesus Christ.  They are the immovable truths that guide us and strengthen us for this life.  But we also need to be full of life, to be fruitful.  I am strengthened in this life, not just to survive it, but to be fruitful in it.  God has put us here to love one another.  I want to be strengthened in God’s ways that I might bear good fruit and bring glory to my Creator.

To God be the glory.

Mark Witte is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. Contact him at

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