We have a big willow oak (similar to a water oak) in our yard. It is part of the image of our home. My children literally grew up with this tree. I remember tying some of our horses to it back in the day, when it was only about eight inches in diameter. Now this monster is about 32 inches in diameter and a crazy eight feet or so around.
In my childhood, there are many memories of standing constant trees. There was a big red oak at the edge of one of our fields. We would always put our water jar under it for shade. It was a constant relief from the Southern summer sun. I can still see my Granddaddy Lee hitching our mule, Ole Midgey, to a cultivator under that tree.
On the southern edge of my childhood yard was a winged elm where I learned to climb trees. In our front yard was a nice water oak under whose shade many bushels of peas were shelled for our freezer while tall tales were told.
I am not a tree-hugger, but I appreciate trees. I love to sit under their shade in summer. There is nothing like a crackling fire on a cold winter’s night, when the tree warms more than my body. I have a hammock hanging where I spend time with God swinging between two trees as squirrels often fuss and scamper. I have a few memory wrinkles creased on my brain by the sound of wind surfing on the boughs of loblolly pines.
I love the Psalm that compares a godly man to a tree, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (Psalm 1:3 NKJV). Trees are a constant.
I remember traveling to Haiti after the big earthquake in 2010 and seeing thousands of buildings reduced to rubble. Yet I noticed all the trees were still standing. There are over twenty-five mango trees on our church and school grounds outside of Leogane. At that time, we had three buildings; one was destroyed, another one damaged with the front wall crumpled, and our main church building remained undamaged. All the trees stood unharmed.
We all need a constant in our lives, something that remains unmovable. God has been a constant in my life. From the time I was a young seedling, God was a constant in my life. I can’t explain that in evangelical terms, but He was. He was this immovable being, invisible, but always in my consciousness. I could never get away from Him or He would never go away from me.
As I reached that age when spiritual decisions and commitments must be made, I paused but then pursued that glaring Constant in my life. He was so formidable I could not get around Him. There were times I tried to ignore Him, but He would not leave me alone. I was like a kid holding his breath under water, it did not take me long to come fighting to the surface for a fresh breath.
The flowers of the field often were tempting but then I would see the Tree towering over the vines and petals. They would be as nothing compared to Him. The more I grew under His covering, the bigger He seemed to get, and the smaller I knew myself to be.
I learned to drink in His nectar and get sustenance from His sap. The fruit He bore was healing for my flawed being and for the nations. There was no storm too big for Him and no enemy that could prevail. So, I rest in His branches and stay grounded to His roots as the howling winds of the world rage and spew.
Soon enough my life on earth will end, yet He shall remain, and I will dwell forever in His boughs. He never fades, He never goes away—He is constant before my eyes. I rest in Him. He is my constant, immovable Father and God, my Savior Jesus Christ the Lord, and my Comforter Holy Spirit.
God is the Creator of all things. He made the trees and me.
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt
“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2 NKJV).