It was time for harvesting the timber. A forest of coniferous trees, planted a few decades before. Gone are the days of men in check shirts and jeans, wielding an axe with strength and precision. These days amazing machines grab, cut, remove branches and stack the trunks, prior to shipping them off to be used for wood pulp at local paper mills, or whatever.
The fir trees disappeared over a few days, leaving a new vista of scrub and stumps. But the lumberjacks, or whatever they are called these days, had left a deciduous tree on its own, standing tall in the middle of devastation. Its trunk was thin, twisted, spindly, warped, even anaemic, deeply affected by the coniferous thuggery that had crowded out its normal growth patterns. No branches, just a burst of growth at the top, where it managed to find its own supply of life-giving sunlight. I don’t know how it got there. Perhaps a seed carried by the wind. Or deposited by an animal. But it found itself in an environment foreign to what suits it best. And in spite of the obstacles, it survived and flourished as best it could. It could have given up, beaten by the difficulties, but it continued to fight its way regardless of its circumstances.
We go through life, shaped and moulded by our experiences. Sometimes our natural growth patterns prevail. At other times we get stunted by the environment in which we find ourselves. But we have a choice – we either fight our way through, overcoming whatever circumstances life throws at us, or we give up and settle for second best. Easily said I know, but Paul has given us an example in Philippians 1, where he used his incarceration in a Roman prison to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the palace guard. And by so doing, he has encouraged many Christians through the ages since. He could have wallowed in self-pity, riven by depression, but instead he fought his way through the injustice of his imprisonment to spread the message of the Son of God.
I don’t know what will happen to the tree now. It’s probably confused, but once Spring arrives, I’m sure it will shout a burst of thanks and start sprouting the greenery at the top, and perhaps even a shoot or two from its trunk. Nothing to hold it back now. An overcomer.