On a hot day, it is refreshing to enjoy the shade of a stately tree. Shade, however, can also provide us a place to hide, and hiding is not how God wants us to live out our faith. When we choose to live in Christ, it should be out in the open, not obscured. When people meet you, it should be evident that you are a child of God in how you act, in how you treat others, and in how you share God's word.
What kind of tree might you be using to disguise the presence of your faith? Perhaps you are under the shade of a redwood, keeping your faith so tightly sealed inside that only you know it is there. Maybe you are tangled in the hanging limbs of a mangrove tree, so people have to sift through your life to find evidence of Christ. If you are hidden by the leaves of the weeping willow, whether your faith shines through is dependent on the wind—it peeks through when a rush of air blows the branches aside, but it's hidden from view when the air is still.
Whatever trees we choose to hide behind, they provide too much shadow to allow us to be the examples of Christ that God is looking for in all of us. God wants our faith out in the bright sunshine, obvious to all who know us and to all that we meet. Whether we are in the shade of a redwood or a sapling, any shadow provides too much cover.
So why do we fear being out in the open? Why would we not want to be in the center of a meadow, absorbing the blazing sunshine and reflecting Christ back into the world? Do we worry that we will get burned?
I invite you to start your journey out into the sunshine. If you are deeply embedded in the forest, just start with one step at a time. Move from the obscurity of the redwoods, through the saplings and out into the sun. And rest assured that during those times when the exposure gets difficult and you fear being scorched, God will send a cloud your way to give you respite for a few moments to allow you to again gather the strength to openly be a child of God.