While clearing the devastation and destruction of 9/11, emergency workers saw a bit of green life sticking up out of the rubble. Those tirelessly working to search for any signs of life were amazed at what they found. It was a tree, or what was left of a tree – severely damaged, but miraculously alive. All that was left was a stick, but that “stick” was still alive!
The tree and its survival spoke to the hearts of those who found it among the ruins. It was a sign of hope. The tree was taken to a nursery and cared for. After several years, it was replanted in a place of honor at the 9/11 Memorial, as a symbol of survival and resilience.
The tree is thriving now, but the scars are clearly seen – evidence of the trauma it endured. This tree is damaged. It does not look as pretty and certainly not as perfect as the other trees around it. Yet, it is carefully fenced off and is the only tree gathering a crowd of people around it with one sharing its amazing story.
As I looked at that tree, it spoke to me of my life and of the Kingdom of God. I, like so many, can speak of life events that were devastating, that left me feeling like I was in an emotional and spiritual waste land – barren and fruitless – much like the tree that Jesus spoke about in Luke 13:6:
“A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man that took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and have not found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir’, the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I will dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
I can with pinpoint accuracy remember times in my life where I was the tree in this parable. But, I then found myself replanted in a place where I was nurtured in a Kingdom way. I had individuals in my life who were like Vineyard Keepers. When I was ready to give up on myself, they poured into me, some never even aware of the effect they had on my life. I experienced the Lord replanting me in a “good place – a place where I was encouraged to grow, to bear fruit. I find myself in a very good place now.
We are all called to be Vineyard Keepers, as individuals and as a body. What if we took it a step further and saw each other and ourselves not just as “Survivors”, but “More than Conquerors”? Our scars can be seen as marks of triumph (remember when Jesus showed His scars to Thomas?). In His triumph over death and the grave, Jesus still bore the scars. And today we stand in awe at the significance and the beauty of those scars.
~ Susan Kewin,
Christ Fellowship member