The Tulip Tree

God is with us every moment and always takes care of us. For some reason however, we often seem to forget this. He does not hide but rather He reminds of us his presence through everything that he has done. Too often though, we do not recognize Him or appreciate what He has done. Instead, we often take advantage of what we have. We get caught up is hustle and bustle of everyday life. We let stress, worries, and fear gnaw at us. For some reason, we lose sight of the One who always takes care of us and who wants to comfort us. We are all guilty of this at some point. I know that I fall in this trap more than I would like to admit.

Lately I have been freaking out about the fact that I am now a high school graduate. Seriously, I have no idea where senior year, or high school for that matter, went. I worry about starting college in the fall. My friends are all going to different schools. College costs a lot of money. The campus is huge. My worries seem endless. And then there are other concerns that lurk in my mind. Worries about my grandma (who has a multitude of health concerns), my mom (who is very stressed out with various situations), my cat (who could possible have cancer). Amidst all this, sometimes I simply do not feel good about myself. I’m sure that everyone feels this way at some point or other. The list does not end there of course, but you get the idea.

The other day, I noticed something that made me stop my worrying and think for a moment. Out of the jagged edges of a tree limb stump, new shoots of stems and leaves had sprung up. This plant, a tulip tree, had taken a severe beating during the freak October snow storm of 2011. During the storm, a large portion of its branches cracked and broke under the weight of the heavy wet snow. Once we removed the broken limbs and some of the snow, the full extent of the damage became clear.

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The tree appeared thin, uneven, and misshapen. It had always burst with gorgeous flowers in the spring but now it appeared bare and sullen. Most people would have just cut it down thinking that it would never recover its former beauty. It may have been considered a lost cause. For some reason though, we decided to keep it, at least for a couple years to see what would happen. If no improvement was apparent by then, we would consider cutting it down. Come spring 2012, the remaining branches produced flowers but the tree still looked bare. Though the broken branches were long gone, the jagged stumps from which they were ripped from remained as a reminder of the stormy year prior. A late spring frost quickly turned the flowers brown and limp. The tree was far from a sight of beauty. Soon the dead flowers fell and green leaves took their place like all the years before. Then, a few days ago, my family noticed the new green shoots coming from the branch bases left behind. It will still be a while before the tree is restored to its former wonder but the tree is definitely on its way. It was broken but is on the road to recovery.

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These little shoots gave me a sense of comfort and hope. No matter how broken and battered our situations are, we can recover with the help of God. We can grow even when broken. There is no problem that God cannot fix. We are not lost causes even though we may occasionally feel that way. Good can come from the roughest and most stressful part of our lives. It may take time but anything is possible. We all need second chances just like this tree. The good news is that God does NOT give up on us after one fall or mistake. Instead, God gives us these second (and third, forth, fifth and so in) chances. He has a plan. He helps us rise from the grime of everyday life and stress. We can live knowing that our heavenly Father does not give up on us. Even when our path seems unclear and our lives appear to be messed up, there is hope. God cared enough to help these little green shoots grow from a broken tree. He cares many more times for you.

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