A few years back, (long before I came to know about blogging), after my morning praise and prayer, I would sit on our patio and gaze at the surroundings – pensive. Back then, while I was recuperating from my illness, there was really nothing much to do.
One November morning, I gazed at the narra tree, contemplating on the few yellowed leaves that were left on its branches. At that time of the year, the narra tree sheds its leaves until there isn’t anything left.
The narra tree is the Philippines’ national tree. Its limbs make expensive hard wood that is sought-after by furniture-makers. As I gazed at the narra tree, looking bald and ugly with just its skeleton of leafless limbs, I marveled at the message of it all. The narra tree, stripped of its crowning glory of lush green leaves, seemed to be…despondent.
But I knew that come summer, it would grow leaves again. During the night as everyone slept, God would be busy growing and increasing its leaves, so fast that in just a few weeks, its canopy of green would once again make a cool shade and provide protection from the scorching heat of the sun, and a perfect dwellingplace for the birds. As I contemplated on these things, I thought, One day, it would be good to write about these things.
My life is like that of the narra tree. A season came when God thought good to strip me of all my “leaves” – of everything that crowned me with (vain)glory – to clothe me with garments that are made of His own spinning and weaving.
Like the narra tree, some trees shed off all their leaves in autumn, but grow them again in spring. They are called deciduous trees. Our lives are sometimes like that of the trees. But, unlike the trees, which yield themselves in complete abandon in this process of shedding, most people fret and worry and complain.
For my part, the winter season had been long, hard and painful. It seemed like never-ending. Spring was so long coming. Later, I learned that through all the days and seasons of our surrendered lives, God is faithfully working on us. Spring, that is, the time of growth and development, though it tarries, will surely come.
When we believe and trust in God that He does not stop working on us through all seasons, for our growth and development, we could rest in His loving, laboring hands.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3, emphasis added)
The beauty (and the glory!) of God’s Word is that it is so true and applicable and powerful in every aspect of our lives. As we continue to believe, trust, and follow Him with constant thanksgiving, His glorious Word will evolve in us as fulfilled promises.
After the long and painful winter – during which we are stripped of all that made us proud, self-sufficient and defiant, and we become naked in His sight (weak, needy and surrendered), and nothing is hidden before Him – comes spring, when He clothes us with the garments of praise and righteousness and humility and holiness, that we might live for the glory of His name, for whereunto we are called.
It’s summer in the Philippines, and during this time of the year, the narra tree is as lush as it could be. Its canopy of green makes a cool shade in our garden and the birds perch on its branches. This is the kind of tree that the Lord promised us to be – lush, full of life! A life that only comes from Him, breathing His very breath. A tree of righteousness which He can use – a dwellingplace of the Holy Spirit that brings comfort to the weary, encouragement and hope to the sick and the suffering, and a guide to the lost.
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. (Isaiah 61:1)
My photos of the narra tree.