By Rev. Michael Ericson
The following is one of my meditations while on a hike in the Rockies. As with the Puritans of old who practiced and encouraged thinking deeply on our surroundings and providential occurrences, viewing them through the light of Scripture, I enjoy trekking up a mountainside and pondering the wisdom of God displayed in His creation.
I came across two trees in the midst of a gorge valley between high peaks. They were separated by a mere distance of about thirty feet. While close to one another in proximity, they were very far apart in form and appearance. Not only had one experienced more as to span of years, it had also endured much more of the raging elements.
The tree in the picture below is not only young, but you can see to the right it is shielded from the winds which blast down through the gorge from the mountain pass above. It is sheltered by the rock. Protected from near hurricane force gales and punishing snow masses, it has maintained a tender growth and delicate form.
Across from it I beheld another tree; pictured below. This tree is gnarled, twisted and full of character. It has persevered through the chastening blasts, formed and moved by wind and snow. (One of my hobbies is bonsai; dabbling in the wee trees. This specimen would be priceless.) Its form and shape tell a tale of life and challenge, of endurance and growth, of character and gnarled charm. It is planted firmly on the rock. Nothing has driven it away or moved it off for hundreds of years. There it lives and thrives.
These two trees picture for me two believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. One is young and sheltered, not yet exposed to many trials and storms of the world. The other has walked long with the Lord and endured fierce blasts, which have shaped him or her into the character molded after the beauty of Christ. While I would not readily choose to undergo such force against trunk and limb to produce this beauty, thankfully we have an all wise God that is the guiding hand behind every stroke.
Believers, much like trees, experience times and seasons in this life. Perhaps we have here a picture of the same believer at different points along his or her journey. There are times when the Lord shelters us from intense trials. It is a season of calm, protection, and a time for tender growth. There are also times when God’s chastening trials mold and shape us. Whatever the season, situation, be it calm or trial, the one constant is The Rock. It is Christ upon whom we rest, upon whom we stand, in whom our lives are secured and hidden, protected and made to persevere (Ex 33:22; Matt 7:24; Ps 18:2, 31; Ps 31:2-3; 1 Cor 10:4).
Only those in Christ may have this assurance. If you are not in Christ and die that way then every blasting wind of trouble, every push and pounding of snow, the scorching heat or soul wrenching drought is only a harbinger of the wrath of God to come and the suffering in hell, with the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Only in Christ do all things work together for your good. Only on and in Christ do you have any assurance of standing and persevering. Only in Christ may you believe that every trial and all chastening will mold you into the conformity into His image.
Every trial is sent for a sanctifying purpose of good for those who are firmly shielded by and planted on the Rock. My friend, may your life be built on and shielded by the Rock, Christ. Look to Him and believe.