The Rebellious Tree. Control Freaks' Senility, Part 13


"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Ps 1:1-3 NIV)

I love trees. All kinds, actually, but I'm especially fond of the willow with its long, feathery bows and its white fruit. How majestic to see them bending out over lakes, ponds, and streams of water... How beautiful to behold! What's even more amazing is the growth of the willow tree. After just a few years in the ground they reach their full height and foliage! We have a beautiful willow on the front of our property that, just six short years ago, was nothing but a broken stick that we stuck into the ground. No wonder the righteous are compared to such trees!

There are trees, however, that are less desirable. We had one just off our back deck. We never did identify what kind it was, but it came on the wind and planted itself as a seed, right between the wooden deck and our septic bed. Hum . . . Not good at all!

We should have cut it down immediately, but we didn't. You see, when you have kids, you tend to be a bit more lenient... "Papa, It's a tree! It won't grow quickly! Can we keep it? Please?"

Indeed, the innocent seedling seemed so harmless. What could it possibly hurt to keep it a couple of years?

This was a very fast growing tree, however. After three summer seasons of impatient patience (an oxymoron to say the least!), it had grown to 10 feet in height, and the circumference of its trunk easily matched the circumference of an elephant foot... Well, maybe that of a baby elephant! The trunk was also dangerously close to our deck, and I could just imagine the havoc its root system would soon be creating on our septic bed. The tree was most assuredly a menace!

Early one morning, while my youngest son was away, my oldest son gave me a hand and we "electric-sawed" (a term coined specially for this occasion, but you can feel free to use it, if you like!) The trunk of the tree and hauled it to our compost pile at the back of our property.

The pest was finally gone. Whew!

How wrong we were!

When we returned from our short trip to the Bahamas, the stump of this tree had sprouted, not one, but TEN shoots! It had not giving up its fight, and we would pay dearly for its surrender!

After some much-needed internet research, we discovered two options for our menace: poison or removal. Poison, the easier of the solutions, was, unfortunately, not an option. It would have leaked into our septic bed and killed the bacteria that help it to function adequately. No, our only viable solution was removal...

Sigh...

Much easier said than done!

Although we anticipated a battle, we had no idea just how quickly unmoveable roots established themselves around rebellious tree trunks! There were not two of them, nor three! We counted a total of nine major root systems coming off of that stump, and each one of them outdid itself in being unyielding and uncooperative!

We set out to fight the battle armed with our best tools in hand: a small hatchet; a pair of snippers; two shovels, one small and one large; a crowbar; and the favourite of my oldest son: an electric saw. Okay, so maybe our tools weren't the best after all... Maybe we set out instead with the ONLY tools at our disposal! Remember, we aren't seasoned tree stump removers!

After going through the ordeal, I would highly recommend that any future endeavours be handled with a full-sized axe, and quite possibly a chain saw!

The first problem we encountered was that the evergreen bush that was supposed to be filling this flower bed was also unrelenting, and it did everything in its power to discourage us from the task at hand! It seemed to think it had been appointed "caregiver" of those baby trees, and no matter how hard we tried to hold back its branches, it slapped them forward, usually hitting us in the face, and always managing to come between our blade and the stump. It also oozed a tarry substance which soon covered our hands, arms and faces. What a sticky mess!

To make matters worse, we were in the midst of the rainiest summer on record for our region, and the ground was a sink pot of black, sticky mud.

In my eagerness to attack the project, I had forgotten to eat breakfast. Not a good thing when planning such tasks! After just an hour-and-a-half, my blood sugar was dipping, and with it my spirits. I decided to try and remove some of the mud from my hands, and I went inside for a few minutes. When I returned, I found that my youngest son had slipped a shovel under the stump and had turned it on its side. Oh, it was still firmly attached to the ground with its nine "cables", but at least it was progress, and it gave me some encouragement to persevere.

An hour later we had made a little progress, but still not enough to warrant any success. The trunk's roots were unyielding, and the nearby evergreen had renewed its efforts to not lose its stubborn friend. With my head spinning, I decided to take a break, and while away from the situation, I decided that there was only one course of action: Leave it for tomorrow!

When I returned to inform my boys of my decision, however, I found that my older son had gotten out the electric saw, and was cutting back the branches of the evergreen! What do kids learn nowadays at school! Amazing! Maybe it's in their genes (wishful thinking!)!

His endeavours filled me with one last burst of energy. I began hacking away at those roots with the hatchet, and we were finally able to free the stump from its obstinate, deadly location.

It sure helps to work as a team!

I had never thought about how stubborn roots and stumps could be, but now that I think about it, I realize sin is kind of like that stump with its vast system of roots. This is a Biblical concept, actually:

"I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me. Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them." (Hos 14:8-9 NIV)

It isn't easy to leave all control to God, especially when you aren't in the middle of His will! Our rebellious traits will show up in all aspects of our life. At work, the rebellion may take on a flavour similar to this: "My boss is a jerk, my colleagues are miserable complainers, and so am I!" At home the rebellion is only slightly different: "I could strangle my kids! Maybe yelling at them will help! And as for my wife, I better not talk about her!" The rebellion even follows us to church: "My pastor can be so boring and his sermons are way too long! Can't he stop in time for me to reach Swiss Chalet before the other church goers get there?" It's also seen in our leisure activities: "Why can't I just relax? My work stinks, my church is, well… it's boring, my family is ungrateful and what am I doing here?" Is it any wonder that our rebellion also follows us to bed at night? "Why can't I sleep?"

When we aren't in the middle of God's will, we are miserable most of the time. Oh, there will be some sweet times, but the sour lemons will generally be the norm. There's no way our own fruit will be tasty to others!

What's the solution to this miserable existence?

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV)

Only by submitting ourselves wholeheartedly to God's control will we ever enjoy life and produce worthwhile fruit. No one would ever consider cutting down such a majestic tree! So much better than the rebellious tree stump we once were!

Rob Chaffart

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