Yesterday as Don and I drove to an appointment, a tree caught my eye. Planted in the median, it towered above the road in magnificent, round splendor. Progressing from the trunk, sturdier branches spawned thinner ones, reaching up and out until the branches became so thin you could barely see them.
I marveled at the tiny clusters at the end of each branch, and at the perfectly random, symmetrical shape of the whole tree. Yes, the tree also had flaws: broken branches hung down, and crooked branches bent in deformed angles. The beauty wasn’t its color, or even its size – it was in the delicately patterned branches, including the flaws, only visible in its leafless, naked state.
I thought about this same tree with leaves. Will it still be beautiful? Yes, fresh, leafy growth is a sign of life. But the uniqueness of the tree will be lost. The green leaves will hide the intricate beauty of the tree’s basic structure.
Only God could create something so beautiful in nakedness.
Then I thought about what an oak tree would look like with pine needles on it, or a pine tree with oak leaves. Yep, totally out of place, awkward, and fake. And we’d easily see through the disguise.
Trees are beautiful with leaves, equally beautiful without, and they'd be hopelessly obvious if they tried to be something they're not.
So are people.
When God is doing a new thing in my life, or I’m walking in a season of blessing, it’s wonderfully exciting and life-giving. My oak tree sprouted its leaves!
When I’m in a winter season of brokenness, all my weaknesses, faults, and failures are exposed. Powerless to cover up, I stand trembling; naked, vulnerable, and fearful of rejection. What will everyone think of me now? Truth is, they see more of my beautiful true self in this season than in any other.
When I am struggling, failing, or not measuring up to my own standards, I just know everyone can see how horrible I really am. Fearful of rejection, I frantically grab pine needles of doing the right things and saying the right words to hide the broken places on my oak tree. But really, who am I kidding?
Can you relate?
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)
We humans – with all our flaws – are His works. He created us, and He loves us. We are beautiful.
Not just on the outside.
Not just when things are going well.
All the time.
Only God can create something so beautiful in nakedness…including people!
Thank you, God, for these lessons from a naked tree.
Questions to ponder: What season are you in? Are you thankful for your beauty in this season?