I know most people do not like Magnolia Trees because they can make a mess with their big, hard-to-rake-up leaves. But Magnolia Trees have always had a special place in my heart.
My wife and children understand this to the point they gave me a Magnolia Tree sampling to plant in our front year back in 2008. The year after, I went through my cancer battle resulting in the loss of a kidney.
My love for Magnolia Trees spurns from my days as a young boy when there was a mature tree probably a hundred years old in my neighborhood. I really do not know how old. As a kid, anything over twenty was old. But this tree was at least several decades old.
It was large enough that me and my friends would climb the tree and sit in its massive branches. Like a strong man’s arms holding us on his shoulders, gently cradling us so we could look around and see all around the neighborhood. We could sit there and virtually hide as we watched others walk below, never knowing we were just a few feet above their heads. We could have jumped from the tree and landed on their shoulders before they knew we were there.
Its massive canopy covered us above from the beating sun. Rain had a hard time getting through to wet us as the branches and leaves above were so thick. We could sit there for hours, it seemed, never concerned about falling. Moving from branch to branch like monkeys in the wilds of the jungle. The mammoth branches gather us like a grandfather hugging his grandchildren. Feeling his strength, love, and comfort in knowing you were protected from unknown forces we were unaware of at that age.
The tree itself with roots reaching far from the trunk. Like strong fingers digging into the ground, shifting it, grabbing it. Reaching deep to hold secure from the winds. While other trees bend and sway in the strong hurricane winds of North Carolina, the Magnolia Tree stood the test of time, holding firm, never wavering, never bending to the whim of pressure.
The tree is a symbol of my youth when I had no cares in the world when nothing could harm me. When nothing could persuade me, there was evil in the world looking for a chance to prance like a roaring lion to devour my very being. Standing strong and tall, magnificence in all its glory. Never to allow harm to those who hide in its giant branches.
Oh, I long for those days again. To climb into the branches of that magnolia tree. To sit and watch the world as it goes by. Never concerned about tomorrow. Only enjoying the moment of security and peace, I felt years ago.
Though today I cannot climb in the branches of a Magnolia Tree, and the tree planted in my yard in 2008 is now 30 feet tall, the branches are not strong enough to support me or hide me from the world.
Today, I climb into the arms of Jesus. He gives me that security and peace I long for and felt as a child. His foundation is strong; His protection covers me like the canopy of the magnolia. I rest secure in knowing that He will protect me from those unknown forces. He is the branch that supports me.
The Word of God is the foundation – the Rock – that I need, to keep me from being swayed. Like the roots of that childhood magnolia digging deep into the ground, the Word of God digs deep into my soul, and I find solace.
The Word of God quenches my thirst like a cool brook. Providing refreshing words of comfort as I rest, knowing that God has me in the palm of His hand.
And the Word of God covers me like the canopy of that magnificent Magnolia Tree with His Grace and Mercy, protecting me from the attacks of this world.
Thus comes the saying my friend and mentor Jeff Kisiah use to say to all his men after spent time praying over them. He would end his prayers with,
“I pray God will give you a rock to stand on, a brook to drink from, and a tree to shade you.”
His influence has resulted in me picking up this quote and saying it over those I pray with.
Where are you today in your spiritual walk? Are you standing on the Rock? Are you drinking the cool water of God’s Word? Are you resting under the canopy of God’s grace and mercy?
If not, I encourage you today to make the decision to follow Jesus. If you have turned your back on God, I encourage you to repent and return to the Lord.
I would like to hear about your decision.
To the challenge and adventure to disciple men.