I love trees. Trees are my friends. That’s why it was so painful when I had to say goodbye to several trees in my yard last year. I knew they had to go. They weren’t healthy and they were hurting the healthy trees that were close to them, but that didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.
The hardest tree to say goodbye to was a big beautiful maple right outside my office window. It was huge and cast wonderful shade over a good portion of my front yard. The tree was beautiful, but it was unhealthy inside. Like many of us, it had an invisible illness. Only the trained eye of the arborist could see the disease.
The tree had to go. If we didn’t cut it down there was a good chance that it would break during the next big storm and fall right on my house. I understood why it had to be cut down, but I didn’t like it.
When the tree was cut down it left behind a big, gaping hole. We filled it with dirt, but the ground is scarred and ugly. Now when I look out my window I’m reminded of something beautiful that was taken away and turned ugly. It reminds me of my life.
I had a great life, a beautiful life. Everything looked great from the outside, but inside I was sick. Many years later I look back and see the scarred earth where my flourishing life used to be. It’s not a gaping hole anymore, but it’s not pretty.
I have big plans for that scarred part of my yard. It’s going to be beautiful again. This month is my birthday and for my present my parents took me to one of my mom’s favorite places, a place with lots and lots of rocks. I immediately spotted the best rock in the place and claimed it as my own.
This rock is a perfect sitting rock. It’s a huge rectangle with a perfectly carved out seat for sitting. The back area is curved and fits me as if God Himself carved it as a perfect match for my back. It’s going to be the centerpiece of my little sitting rock garden.
Soon these rocks are going to be set right on top of the scarred piece of earth the beautiful maple tree left behind. It’s going to be hard work to place them just right. It’s going to take patience to choose the perfect flowers to plant among the rocks, water them, and wait for them to grow. But when it all comes together it’s going to be beautiful.
Dare I say I think it’s going to be more beautiful and special than the maple tree was? There are still roots under what is going to be my sitting rock garden. Those roots are the foundation I will build upon. I have grand plans for that scarred piece of earth.
My dreams and plans for my sitting rock garden give me hope and remind me that God also has a grand plan. His plan isn’t for a small piece of land that’s as miniscule as a speck of dust to Him. His grand plans are for me – and you.
God knows that our lives haven’t been easy. He knows that things have been stripped away and we’ve been left scarred. But God’s plans are perfect and good. He has a plan to restore our lives to something even better than what we started with.
Jeremiah 29:10-11 (The Message) says, “This is God’s Word on the subject: ‘As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.’”
Most of us are familiar with verse 11, but verse 10 helps put it in context. The Israelites were in exile. They were wounded, scarred, and hopeless. Yet in the midst of that pain God comes in and says that He has plans to restore them, take care of them, and give them the future they hoped for.
God doesn’t rush things. He knows where we are right now and where He wants to bring us. God can turn our scars into something beautiful if we let Him. It will take trust, patience, and a whole lot of faith. But if we can do that, if we can trust God with our lives, He will be with us every step of the way. He will give us patience and help us believe in Him.
“…Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” ~ Mark 9:23-24 (NLT)