Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32 (NLT)
In front of our house is a majestic oak tree. Its branches spread out over both our house and the house next door, and when you approach our house from down the street you can see the tree towering over our neighborhood. I’ve often wondered how long the tree has stood there. I sometimes imagine that it first emerged from the ground when Dutch settlers founded our town over a hundred and fifty years ago.
Each year, our tree drops acorns. Our tree drops a lot of acorns. In the late summer they begin dropping from the tree like little bombs shelling our roof around the clock. A fortunate family of squirrels incessantly patters across the roof right above my home office, gathering the acorns for winter storage. I suspect that our mighty oak tree alone feeds a whole pack of squirrels for the entire winter.
Some days I walk into the house, crunching acorn shells beneath my feet, and I think about those tiny little seeds. Our sprawling oak tree started out just like one of those small seeds I trample underfoot. Through harsh winter blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, violent spring thunderstorms, and blistering midwest doughts our tree has continued to slowly grow. Each year it experiences a cycle of death and rebirth. With each season the tree puts roots deeper down into the Iowa soil to draw nourishment for its perpetual reach toward heaven.
I want to be like that old oak tree. Weathering all that life throws at me, I want to keep digging deeper so that I can continue reaching higher. As I grow, I want to spread myself out to shade and protect those around me. I want to provide for the little ones who scurry around, almost forgotten, at my feet. I want to offer a continuous supply of life giving oxygen for others to breathe. I hope that some day, when my trunk lays rotting on the ground, an entire forest will stand around me as a silent, living, and perpetuating memorial to this life that I have lived.