It never ceases to amaze me how, if you are listening, God will take any little moment of the day to speak to you. In our busy lives, you don't always have to carve out an hour of you day to kneel beside your bed and talk with Him (although that's nice sometimes!) He will meet you where you are and (just like a close friend) strike up a conversation as though no time has passed since your last one. I love these moments with Him.
Today's moment came at the bus stop with my son. This isn't the first sacred moment I've had while standing under the enormous Sycamore tree at the corner with him. Last year, my son accepted Christ as his Savior while waiting for the bus under that same tree. Each school morning, we pray together under that tree as well. The funny thing is- I've never liked that tree. I've lived on this street for 28 years and I've always thought it was a bit ugly. It's got this mottled, diseased-looking bark that peels off in chunks. It's leaves are not as vibrant as most trees'. It drops these weird, ugly pod things all over the sidewalk. And in the fall, while the other trees are turning brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange, the sycamore's leaves turn brown, shrivel up, and fall off. Yuck.
I've often wondered why anyone would CHOOSE to plant this tree somewhere. They line many streets in my town, and I could never figure out why anyone would want them- until this week. This past week, we had an epic, historical, record-shattering snow storm in the Northeast. Most towns around here got 8-12 inches of snow on the last weekend of October. Aside from this being highly unusual, it was extremely dangerous, because normally we don't get such snow storms until well after the trees have shed their leaves. But when this storm came, the trees were in the middle of their autumn fashion show. The leaves collected the snow as it fell, and the heavy snow built up on the trees more than it ever would during a winter storm. This resulted in catastrophic tree and power line damage. The town looked more like it was hit with a tornado than a snow storm. Almost 5 days later, thousands are still without power.
As I drove around, surveying the damage, I couldn't help but notice something. The sycamore trees were still standing tall and proud. Among the hundreds of fallen or severely damaged trees, I couldn't find one single sycamore that had fallen down or even lost any significant branches. Hmmm. Now I'm intrigued. So, in twenty-first century fashion, I google "sycamore trees". I'm amazed at what I read. Sycamores are fast-growing trees. They can reach enormous proportions. George Washington recorded measuring one's circumference at 45 feet!!! Because they grow so fast and strong, they are sometimes planted next to young oaks and other "more desirable", slower- growing trees. They act as a "nurse" tree to shelter the smaller tree while it grows. Yes, sycamores are known for their strange camoufloged-looking bark. According to Wikipedia,
"The bark of all trees has to yield to a growing trunk by stretching, splitting, or infilling; the Sycamore shows the process more openly than many other trees."
Maybe the Sycamore and I have some things in common. . . Because, really, with it's "ugly" bark and unappealing leaf shedding, the sycamore is really just like all other trees-- with less pretense. The sycamore does what other trees do, but in a very matter-of-fact, what you see is what you get, "I'm not trying to impress anyone" way. The sycamore stands tall, mighty, and strong. It quietly protects other, flashier trees without getting credit. It stands firm when storms and adversity comes. It doesn't come crashing down under the weight of enormous burdens. In the Bible, it even allowed Zacchaeus to get his first glimpse of Jesus.
As I walked back up to the bus stop this afternoon, I looked up at that tall, mighty tree. I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe and gratitude. I stood there worshiping silently in my heart. . .thanking God for the Sycamore. . . asking for the strength to become more like it.