Thursday, August 23, 2007

Weeping willow

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Ezekiel 33, 34; Psalm 117

Psalm 117 (NIV)

1 Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples.

2 For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Ezekiel 17:5-6 (NIV)

5 [Ezekiel] took some of the seed of your land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, 6 and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.

Good evening!

An ornamental weeping willow tree proudly stood in the middle of the circle drive where I played as a child. It was a beautiful hybrid mix, resembling a Chinese Peking and a European White. Standing in its majestic form, the shelter underneath the slender, graceful branches made for a wonderful playhouse. The children in our neighborhood gathered there to play board games, do homework, and dream. The root system of a weeping willow lends itself to toughness. This tree has a tenacity for living a long, long time. It was my hiding place, a secret space where I often experienced the love and shelter of God.

Michael was my dear playmate and friend. He lived just across the street from our house. When we were five and three years old respectively, Michael asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes, and I practiced our wedding march every day in the costume wedding gown my mother had ordered from the Sears catalog. When Michael was eight years old, he began to fall down on the playground at school. His speech became slurry. A concerned teacher contacted Michael’s parents. Later that week, Michael was hospitalized and underwent surgery for a malignant brain tumor. The doctors successfully removed the growth but Michael suffered some irreparable brain damage as a result. He missed almost a year of school. When he was well enough to return, his disability necessitated that he attend special school. A bright yellow school bus would stop every morning to pick Michael up at his home. Unfortunately, the bus was too long to make a turn around the large weeping willow in the circle drive. With the neighborhood’s blessing, the City took the tree down so that Michael’s bus could easily fetch him for school each day.

That willow tree would have grown back had it not been for the layers of asphalt poured over its root system. It seemed like such a small sacrifice at the time, to help a dear friend in need. Still, the children in our neighborhood missed seeing our willow tree every day. We knew it was there, watching us from above as we played games in the circle drive. We were very thankful that our friend Michael had survived his illness. Michael’s physical infirmities never got in the way of his sweet, loving spirit. He was an earth angel to all of us.

The branches of a beautiful weeping willow blew softly in the breeze by the lake that sits in front of my office building. Staring at its timeless, intrinsic beauty, I was reminded of the love God has for you and me. A faithful and constant friend, God shelters you like the tender branches of the weeping willow. His root system is strong, nourishing and protecting His children day by day. He is the tree of life, extending faithfulness and everlasting love to all who call upon His name. Like our weeping willow tree, God even allowed Himself to be cut down just to save a dying soul. We may not always see Him, yet we know He is there, holding our hands and offering hope to the hopeless.

Come and enjoy the love of God tonight. Won’t you come and play underneath the weeping willow?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: His loving arms to hold you. He is a strong tower, and He will shelter you and carry you through every infirmity you face in life.


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