It has been a year since I had my mango tree cut down. I had planted it as a sapling, nurtured it as it grew, and waited seven long years for it to bear fruit. There were, however, a number of unexpected developments along the way. For one thing, I had purchased the young plant with the understanding that it was a dwarf species, as my front yard has limited space; but after the first two years it became obvious that my tree was not going to be undersized.
Even more of a surprise and disappointment to me was that the tree turned out not to be the variety of mango that I had thought it was. Of course, I did not find this out until it actually produced fruit — after my seven-year wait.
My mango tree continued to flourish, shooting up to more than twenty feet as it crept dangerously close to the electricity cables that ran outside my home. Not even regular pruning could curtail its rapid growth, and it appeared to spring up even faster after a good trimming. Eventually, I had no choice but to have it cut down. I was away from home while the deed was being done and when I returned to find nothing left of it but a small stump, I was unprepared for the sudden rush of sadness that came over me. Despite the fact it had turned out much differently from what I had anticipated, I had become attached to the tree and had enjoyed picking and eating its fruit; now I felt almost as if I had lost a member of my family.
Since then, it has come to me how much that tree mirrored my own life. In spite of God’s tender care and constant correction, I have continually fallen short of expectations, have repeatedly been wayward, and have frequently exposed myself to danger. Yet God has never stopped loving me through it all and is saddened when I give in to sin. Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (NIV). I have often wondered if all the time and effort I put into my tree was worth it, given the let-downs, the challenges, and what happened in the end. I remain eternally grateful that regardless of my failures, God has never harbored similar thoughts about me!
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”