The Tenacious Tree: Part One

I choose to be Tenacious…and want to prosper. 

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…and whatever he does shall prosper.” ~ Psalm 1:1,3

The pin oak tree in my back yard has been tenacious, but it has not prospered. It was a large tree as back yard shade trees go, it was tall and provided a lot of shade. Unfortunately it has also provided a lot of firewood. 

My first clue that it was a goner was during a tornado warning in the spring of 2014. I was standing in the door at the back of the house. The wind blew hard and I heard, felt and saw the top of the tree break and land on the roof over my head. While getting the tree top off my roof I noticed the telltale scar in the trunk of the tree from a lightning strike. While splitting firewood from the tree top I found a large white worm…a grub I think my forestry friend would call it. Then last fall another large limb fell on the side away from the house. Last week another limb just missed the house. 

I remember the ice storm of 2007 that broke a lot of limbs off that tree. That’s probably when the grubs got started in the middle of our oak tree. I still don’t know when the lightning struck, and still can’t forget when the wind blew the top down on the roof. I do know that I have a job to do. The tree has to come down. Between the ice storm, the grubs, the lightning, and the wind, my back yard will not have as much shade next summer. 

When I see that pitiful tree in my back yard I think of people who started their spiritual life with vim, vigor and vitality. Some of them I really relate to Psalm 1. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” 

One said, “I feel like I could put out hell with a water pistol.” Last time I heard from him he was no longer in the ministry, no longer in church, and was neglecting his spiritual and personal life. I would never have guessed that of him. How did he get that way? How does anyone go from prospering to not much better than “firewood?” Many times it is the same as my pin oak tree. The ice storm didn’t take it down, nor did the grubs, nor did the wind, nor did the lightning, it was tenacious. Now, I know that it’s never going to prosper, so it’s my chainsaw that has to be used. 

My pin oak tree didn’t go from beautiful shade to firewood in one day with one decision. It was a process that went to the heart of the tree, and from the inside out the tree has been dying a slow death for a few years now. 

I suspect that a similar process has worked on my friends who once showed a spiritual vitality to be envied. I suspect that many of God’s servants who once were considered spiritual giants but whose lives didn’t end well have gone down the same or similar roads. 

I close this article with a quote from Yogi Berra, “If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” My prayer for you today is that you prosper by both knowing where you are going, and by tenaciously finishing your life there.