The Forest of the Shire

Matt 12:33 "Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is known and recognized and judged by its fruit." AMP

There once was a gorgeous forest in the shire of a mighty nation. It was renown for its rolling hills covered with multitudes of ancient pine, maple and willow trees. People enjoyed wandering along its many paths. In fact, people would come from every nation around the world just to visit this ancient forest. Besides offering shelter from the sweltering summer heat, there seemed to be something "magical" about the forest, for those who entered in would find much needed rest for their burdened souls.

In the forest was an overseer who never stopped proclaiming to all the trees of this ancient forest the importance of swaying in the same direction. The young trees learned very early on never to sway in a different direction from the others.

Also in the forest there was a young red maple. "Why do we have to sway in the same direction?" he asked the overseer one day.

"Destruction will come if we sway our own way," responded the wise one.

But the young red maple wasn't satisfied. "Why?" he asked.

"You will understand the day that disaster strikes," the old tree responded.

This didn't make sense to the young maple. What was wrong with swaying any way you wanted to? After all, weren't each of the trees their own individual selves?

Then one day, a terrible storm appeared out of nowhere. No one in the shire had time to prepare for its impact, even less the trees of the forest. The trees started to sway back and forth.

The overseer's voice could barely be heard over the boisterous wind: "Let's all keep on swaying in the same direction, guys!"

The thunder began to roll and the lighting flashed from all directions. The trees of the forest began to be scared. The lightning struck right in the middle of the forest. The overseer was hit, and he crumbled under the impact of the blow. In all the confusion, the trees began swaying in all different directions. Some of them even decided to stand still against the strong winds. "Who dares to make us swing in such indecent postures!" they proclaimed.

These trees were quickly uprooted, and they slammed against the ones swaying their own ways, knocking them down in the process. Devastation was everywhere. Hope seemed to be completely lost. Some of the trees believed that if they shook all their leaves off, they would stand a better chance against the storm. However, the majority of the leaves fell on a nearby campfire, and soon the trees were engulfed by wind-driven flames.

The next day the villagers grieved the loss of their forest. Burned trees, dead to the core, stuck straight out of the ground. Other trees lay crisscrossed on the ground. Only a few trees were still standing. The forest of the shire was gone, lost because of its own disunity in the midst of the storm.

Now the young red maple understood the warnings of the overseer!

Does this sound familiar? Disunity is devastating at any time, but in the midst of the terrible storms of life, it can be deadly. The evil one knows this and uses this to his own advantage; but though he plays on the disunity of others, he makes sure his own ranks stand united! Didn't Jesus say: Matt 12:25-26 "Any kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand. And if Satan drives out Satan, he has become divided against himself and disunified; how then will his kingdom last or continue to stand" AMP?

If Satan and his forces can stand united, how come we, as believers, are so disunited? One member suffers when someone close to him dies, and soon he is not attending church any longer. Another member experiences a terrible divorce, and soon he is being avoided like the plague. Another one falls in the trap of sin, and soon everyone is gossiping about him. Someone else focuses so much on the responsibilities of his job that he neglects the responsibilities given to him by the Lord Himself. Bickering, backstabbing, negativity, disunity . . . It's become the norm among Christians! Why?

Why can the devil promote unity among his evil demons and we, as Christians, cannot even exercise the love that Jesus showed us? Is this what prompted Jesus' prayer just before his arrest: John 17:22-23 "I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one: I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me." AMP

Five times Jesus uttered this request in John 17. Five times! How heavy this concern must have weighed on his heart! Was He aware of the upcoming disunity among Christians and among denominations? Did He know in advance we would soon forget that truth is a person, not a concept?

Is it possible that this disunity exist among us because we put our OWN interests above the Lord's? Is it possible that the encouraging words proclaimed in the New Testament have been replaced by condemnation and criticism because we haven't noticed that our own worst enemy is our selfishness?

The only way out of this is to become solely dependent upon Jesus; to act the way He acted while He was on the earth. May we take the following words to heart and decide to fulfill Jesus' prayer: Phil 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." NIV

If every Christian makes this his motto, it won't belong before the entire church sways together. Is unity important to you? Remember the words of the overseer: "Let's all keep on swaying in the same direction, guys!"

Rob Chaffart

Receive our free newsletters

The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available. 


The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.

Visit Answers2Prayer

Subscribe Here:
The Illustrator
The Nugget

Your email:

Please be aware that you will receive a confirmation message via email. Once you receive it, please click on the link mentioned in the email. If you have problems please email us.