My “Rescue” Tree

   Those who know me well, know my love for trees. They know I enjoy identifying them via their leaves, bark, or grain. Though I’m not as good at it as I used to be, there are still several species that are easy for me, and marvelous to gaze upon.

   Through the years since moving to “Little Pennsville” (what I call our place), I’ve endeavored to plant some additional quality trees. The old “soft maples” had to come down because of their imposing dangers. The old walnut tree never produced walnuts, so it had to go as well. Since then, I’ve planted four white pine trees (two have survived), four poplar trees (none survived), and a feeble attempt at two pin-oaks. They died as well. I was growing discouraged!

   Then in late May, I received from my sister-in-law two unwanted “hard maples” from her flower bed. One survived and is doing extremely well! But the one most recently planted is of special interest to me. I found it at Rural King. It is a Red Maple, but it was in a “sad state of affairs” when I found it. The upper part of the tree appeared to be dead, but the lower part still had three nice limbs and additional sprouts coming up from the bulb. I asked their plans for such a tree, and they told me it was being sold at 75% off the list price. (I found another they’d thrown away and wished I’d asked about it as well!) I agreed to their price and brought it home, dup the hole, and planted it, making sure it was well watered. Since the planting, the Lord has provided the watering in a very timely fashion.

   I call this one my “rescue” tree. I just examined it as I do every day. The branches are getting stronger, the additional growth at the bottom is doing very well, and though I don’t see any new growth from the upper part, I’m encouraged by what I do see! With care and keeping, I believe my “rescue” tree will be one of the best of my trees!

   A remarkably similar observation is made with souls. There are several whose lives appear “dead” in the area where the most abundant growth usually appears. Frankly, by man’s casual observation, because they just don’t “look healthy”, they are often discarded as being either “reduced value” or “altogether unsaleable.” But with a closer examination, there is yet some life in that soul: a life that just might develop into something amazingly beautiful!

   No one can fully “read the mind” of another. Paul wrote, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11) Yet, by their demeanor, their character, their appearance, most of us can determine if there is something amiss with that person, something disturbing them, something with which they need some help! While many may think, “They’re dead. There’s no use in trying to rescue them from their plight,” others may observe with greater scrutiny that there remains some life in their soul! Hebrews 6: 1-8 depicts a bleak picture of the fate of those who fall away from the truth of God, returning to the deadly cares of this sin-cursed world. Yet notice the continuing thought of the writer: “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (vs. 9-12) To do so, someone needs to rescue this otherwise perishing soul from certain eternal destruction. (Galatians 6:1; James 5:20; 1 Peter 4:8).

    Just as there is a promise of growth and maturity in my “rescue” tree, there can be growth and maturity in any soul wherein the life of Christ remains. No, too many that soul may appear “misshaped” or “weak” or simply “not like the rest of us.” Granted, there is some “dead” that needs to be cut off, just as is the case with my “rescue” tree. These areas are called “succors” and in the 2nd chapter of Hebrews, verse 18, we read, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” The word means “to aid or relieve.” By removing the “succors,” more nourishment goes to the growing and maturing parts of the tree and strengthens it against disease. The same is true of the soul: the Lord can remove from us (at our willingness) all that hinders our growth and maturity, that we might become strong, vibrant, and beautiful in His kingdom and service!

   From the sprouts at the bulb of my “rescue” tree, I hope to grow more trees. If I’m careful about their removal from the “parent tree,” I can engage them in stronger growth of roots, and when mature enough, transplant them to a place where they will prove most beneficial and increase the value of my property. The same is true of souls who are showing some “sprouting” of a spiritual sort. If we can patiently wait and nurture those young souls who are showing promise of growth and maturity, at the appropriate time, we can carefully separate them from their “parent root” and immerse them into Christ where their spiritual roots will grow and mature, and eventually benefit from their priceless addition to the fold of God.

   Yes, I love trees! But I love souls even more and pray we that are nearly “full-grown and mature” in the kingdom of God never forget our “roots” and our struggles at growing (2 Peter 3:18). We all need pruning from time to time, and for me, I rejoice in knowing others cared enough to rescue me!