The Sycamore Tree

Originally written April 14, 2016

My neck tilted back as I surveyed the trunk of the towering Sycamore. Majesty unfurled with the length of its branches.  Vibrant green leaves glowed in the afternoon sun and danced with the gentle breeze that tantalized my senses.  The awe-inspired moment left me wondering: why would a leaf ever want to leave such splendor?

Only a few moments before, I had watched a lush green leaf float effortlessly to the ground after a gust of wind had rustled the sturdy limbs. It now laid lifeless at the base of the trunk only a few inches from my sandaled feet.  To the untrained eye, the leaf delivered radiance, exuding chlorophyll, prominent veins spidering to its edges – the ideal picture of life.  It appeared healthy like all the other leaves on the tree, so why had this one chosen to release its grip and drift far away from its friends?  I mused to myself: I thought only dead leaves fell from trees.

I bent at the knee to get a closer view—what I discovered surprised me.  The more I inspected the leaf, the more I realized my initial observation had been flawed. The hearty specimen I had assumed was the model of perfection actually had small brown and black dots just beneath the surface along with other discolorations and imperfections you could only see up close.  This life lesson brought a Bible verse to mind:  “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 NASB.

How many times do we question God, educating Him with our doubts?  “I’m not good enough for the job you want me to do.  Can’t you see?  I’m not artistic like Patty,” or “I can’t mold my words into eloquent speeches like Pastor John.  Surely, you’re not expecting me to stand up front and lead out in church.”  God doesn’t ask us to compare our talents and usefulness to others.  He asks that we “…present [our] bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God…” Romans 12:1 NASB.  In doing so, it is the purpose of God that will prevail.  Proverbs 19:21 ESV says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

When I was a young girl, I would sit in Sabbath School class, and we would often sing a song about “a wee little man” named Zacchaeus who wanted to see Jesus.  He wanted to see Jesus so badly that he “climbed up in a Sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.”  Years later, after standing in front of a live Sycamore for the first time, the story in that song changed for me.  You see, a Facebook post showed up in my newsfeed that same afternoon.  It simply read:  “Long before Zaccheaus couldn’t see Jesus, the tree was already planted to meet his need.”  Our job is never to be good enough.  Our job is to realize that through God’s grace, we already are—and He wants to use us right where we are.

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