So, a few weeks ago we were at a family reunion.
It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, early-summer day, and in the midst of reminiscing and filling our bellies and romping outside, my almost-4-year-old witnessed a limb of a very old, very large, tree come crashing to the ground. Unprovoked. No storm or person or cloud in sight.
It just crashed right to the ground.
It turns out it was an old tree and slowly rotting away on the inside, which is quite a logical reason for the events. But, nonetheless, it gave my son a good scare.
The kind of fright that, for at least week, whenever he saw a tree blowing in the wind, he asked if it was going to fall down.
The kind that made him not want to play his favorite activities outside.
Or walk near any trees on a breezy day.
The kind of fear that can easily occupy a little, growing mind. And worry a small, precious heart.
So, after talking to him about trees and how they grow and why they don’t usually just fall down, we did what I always do whenever I’m worried about something:
As I let him lead his sweet prayer, his only request to God was to, “not let the trees fall down”.
And after that prayer, we had a little talk about what fear is, and what it looks like to be scared of something.
Discussing, that, we can ask God to take away our fears and help us to not be scared.
That we could pray and talk to God at any times “about the trees”.
So, now his prayer has expanded from not just, keeping the trees standing,
but, to the true element at the heart of it,
to “not being scared of the trees falling down”.
And isn’t this simple story, of a sweet, big-hearted child, the way we grown adults, we seasoned humans, we educated people, so often live our lives?
That we worry and pray and beg that the trees in our lives won’t fall down.
That this job, or this illness, or this event, or this stress, or this person,
simply won’t fall.
But, what we could be asking for,
what we should be asking for,
is actually, to, as my son would simply put it, “not be scared”.
To have the courage to walk in faith.
To know that, trees are going to fall, and the storms are going to come,
but our house, if built upon the Rock, will stand.
And when we do this, something beautiful happens. Something divine happens.
Fear, becomes trust. And faith. And courage.
And all of the sudden, we have nerve to go outside again. To walk under trees. Full knowing, that they may one day come crashing down.
But trusting in God to give us courage, and strength and ability,
to keep walking,
to keep living.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” -Matthew 7:24-25
Holding onto hope,