What tree will we grow to be?

I’ve been continuing to think about seeds and trees. And I think there’s always that temptation there to want to decide what sort of tree we will look like, what colour birds will sit in our branches, how many flowers will bloom beneath us.

But just as when we plan a seed in the garden without knowing exactly how it will grow or what it will look like, I think we are similar. Sure, we may know that the seeds will grow into a strawberry plant, or yellow flowers, just like I know that I will always be an introvert. But we don’t know how many yellow flowers there will be, or how big the strawberries produced will be. And in the same way I don’t know what God has planned for me.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God’s plans for me are greater than I could dream of, and I would hate to hinder them by setting my heart on exactly what I want to grow up to be.

The Legend of the Three Trees is a traditional folk tale about three trees, an olive tree, an oak tree, and a pine tree. The olive tree dreamed of becoming a treasure chest, but was disappointed when it was instead made into a manger. The oak tree dreamed of becoming a ship that would carry a king. Instead it was made into a little fishing boat. The pine tree dreamed of always staying on the mountaintop, pointing people to God. Instead it was chopped into scrap wood.

But God’s plans for the trees were greater. The olive tree that became a manger held the baby Jesus. The oak tree that became a little fishing boat carried Jesus into the middle of the lake. The pine tree that became scrap wood, was used to make the cross that Jesus was crucified on.

Each of the trees had had a glimpse at how God might use them, but God worked in surprising and unexpected ways. And even though it was years before the manger held its treasure, the fishing boat carried a king, or the scrap wood had the opportunity to point people to God, God never forgot about them.

We are seeds made to grow into trees, because God has a very specific, and probably surprising, plan for how he will use each of us.

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