I was driving around Gloucester late last fall on a stormy day and spied this lone tree in a field. I actually stopped in the middle of a busy road and gazed for a few moments. Eventually I parked my car and walked around in a smattering of raindrops before finding the right angle for a photo.
There's just something that draws my eye to this old, gnarled and scarred tree set against the storm clouds and rising above the line of distant woods behind it. It's a lone sentinel in a field, surrounded by farm ground that's planted every spring and harvested in late summer. I'm not sure why it was left standing because it seems that everything else in what was once thick woods was chopped down and cleared away long ago to make way for ground to till and grow crops.
If you spend enough time in ministry you can relate to this tree. If you spend enough time in a relentless pursuit of God perhaps you can relate to this tree. Sometimes it feels as if you stand unprotected and vulnerable. Sometimes you take some blows. You can be buffeted by storms. You can feel alone.
All those things are what drew me to this tree. After all these years in that field and through all the changing seasons and the relentless onslaught of storms, the tree has endured. The tree is still standing. Sure it's beat up and gnarled and when you get up close you can see it's rotting in patches. But I like how, as I gazed at it from the base of a low knoll, the tree rises out of darkness and above the line of trees behind it, seeming to touch the light in the parting dark clouds.
It reminds me of our hope in Jesus. There's things that go on in within this Christian life, in faith, in ministry, that are trying and difficult. There's discouragement and at times despair. I'm reminded it always occurs when my eyes are focused on circumstances. I'm reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus. My hope and faith is in Him. And I'm reminded that in Him I'm never alone.