There was once a young tree named Oakley. Oakley arrived on the first day of spring into the yard of a young couple called Mr and Mrs. Wise. They had purchased him from a nearby tree farm and planted him the same day.
The first morning of his arrival Oakley was set gently into the hole that was dug by Mr. Wise. After he was firmly placed into the correct upright position Mr. Wise gave him a long bath along with some food. And then Mr Wise said.. “Oakley, I am hoping for many good years together. You will grow old with us. Our children will climb your branches. Your arms will grow and you will give us shade in the summer and bring beauty all year long. But I must tell you that we have difficult winters here and you will have to be strong and hearty in order to survive.”
Oakley loved his new yard and that first summer he watched as children played around his feet and birds occasionally sat in his branches and sang their bird songs.
As summer turned to Autumn Oakley grew a little puzzled as his leaves started to change colors. They were beautiful but it concerned him that something was wrong. Was he going to die? What was happening to the lush green leaves that he used to produce?
And soon the winds started to howl and they begin to make Oakley very nervous. He was losing his leaves one by one. He started to panic as they disappeared altogether. But Mr. & Mrs. Wise didn’t seem to care at all! In fact they just got out a rake and swept up what he had shed. He was full of fear.
And then it came, that first big storm. Oakley's branches were trembling and shaking uncontrollably. He had no idea that this was what living off of the tree farm would be like. There he was protected and nurtured and today he was praying that it wouldn’t be his last day standing. The winds whipped him this way and that. He would bend one way and then the other. But by night the magnificent wind had passed and all that remained was white. His arms felt nice and warm as the snow piled higher and higher. When he woke up the next morning he felt as if his arms had fallen asleep. The flakes had continued through the night until it felt as if his branches would snap. But as the sun came out slowly all the white melted and Oakley could breathe once again.
And then he felt it…there was this pull beneath him. It felt like something was groaning and churning and his legs seemed just a bit stronger. It was something he had never experienced before, but somehow it felt right and good.
Mr Wise came out and looked Oakley over. He said, “You did well Oakley, you survived your first big storm. This is the first of many. Oakley, storms are what make you strong. You will find that your roots will grow deeper as you face storms. You see that pathetic looking tree over there? That’s Willow and she has lived across the street for the past 5 years. She is watered and coddled and caressed daily. She has ropes that tie her down. See that blanket that covers her? Her owners think that’s the only way to keep her alive. But Oakley the truth is, if you can’t survive this storm without my help you will never be ready for the mighty storms of January. You must have this in order to survive that. This morning you are stronger then you were yesterday, and I have this hope for you, by spring you will have grown deeper and stronger which will make your branches reach higher and further."
Oakley survived the January winds and the March tornadoes. Every once and again he would look over at Willow with a twinge of envy as she waved in her little feathery way. She still had ties that helped her stand. Her leaves were looking a little more pale this year but it seemed she had escaped the brutality of the storms.
As the years past Oakley grew strong as his roots grew deeper. Every so often Mr. Wise would give Oakley a pep talk and encourage him. As he matured, the children who used to play around his feet could now climb his branches. How he loved when they played their games in his arms. He would beam as he heard them read stories under his shade. And he would accommodate his singing feathered friends in the bend of his elbow as they built their nests and started their families.
Sometimes Oakley would sadly look over at the place his friend Willow used to grow. She had been absent for many years but still he missed her. He wondered why she was never able to flourish with all the care she had been given. He questioned why he had grown strong while she had withered and died.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit Jer. 17:8
The winds of winter will come and beat us up. But if we allow ourselves to root deep in those times we will be like the tree planted by the water that spreads out its roots.
I have often prayed that we would be blessed and protected. That God would keep my children from harm and sadness. But truly, we like Oakley, need the storms in order to root deeper and become established.
Our wise Father know this and that is why he allows the storms to rage and winds to blow for a season.
We need storms in order to be the trees of Righteousness we were meant to be.