The sprouting tree stump

It’s sad to see an established tree fall to the ground. After many years of growth and the weathering of many storms, it finally lies motionless—no longer swaying majestically in the breeze.

It happens to us. With youthful passion and purpose we eagerly strive to touch the sky. We grow strong and resilient, feeling the cool of the earth as our roots reach down to anchor us securely and draw up life.

Maybe you never saw it coming. The chainsaw of someone’s crafty scheme; cutting words you never expected, or the lightning bolt of a devastating event. The cracking sound pierces the stillness. Seconds later, a reverberating thud! Splintered and raw, part of what you were juts up jagged above the ground. 

The weeks turn to months while the trees around keep growing undisturbed. For you it seems like the end—the end of a ministry, a calling, or life as it was. But God saw what happened; and if His purpose for your life had been fulfilled, you’d be in heaven. But you’re not. So God’s plan for your life continues.

zombie-stump.jpg

***

It had rained. Shimmering droplets clung to a spider web; others slid to the tips of swaying grass. Nearby, the tree stump was showing signs of new growth. The tree—still rooted deep and unaffected by the external world—was very much alive. Although the new shoots were fragile at first, they were filled with the sap of purpose: that God designed trees to reach for the sky.

Job had lost everything. He experienced the loss of all he owned. On the same fateful day, his children were killed. Then he was struck with a horrific skin disease and, instead of comfort, he endured heartless words of his wife and friends. 

Job goes and sits on the ash-heap of despair. His faith clings to the knowledge that there is a God, and that God is good. Yet he grapples with what God has allowed and mistakenly concludes that even a tree stump has a better chance of fulfilling its purpose:

“Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.”
Job 14:7 (NLT).

Job, however, couldn’t see into the future, to a time when he too would sprout again and God would restore to him far more than had been taken away (Job 42:12-17).

What is not immediately obvious is that in the process of being cut down externally, Job’s heart was changed—the core of who he was; the part that would never die. (Job 23:10)

You are a tree planted by the life-giving water of the Spirit (Jer. 17:7-8). What happens above the ground is seasonal. What matters in eternity happens below, where your roots of faith remain alive. Storms will strike; drought will come; people will hurt and circumstances will change.

If you are feeling as Job did—that this is the end, trust God! Believe that, like the tree stump, you still have life and purpose because God has placed eternity in your heart (Ecc. 3:11)... and no one can destroy that! In your inner being are the “spiritual chromosomes” of passion, creativity and love; and while there is life, you will sprout new shoots and your heart will once again reach for what is above.