Years of leaves have fallen undisturbed, settling into a cushiony duff that is spongy underfoot, almost mattress-like in its softness, yet rich and life-giving to the next generation of trees. We’ve intentionally left this woods alone for over a decade.
When we purchased the farm, cows had the run of the woods, resulting in damage to the trees and to the undergrowth. We fenced it off from the fields, not allowing our horses access. It has been a home for raccoon, deer, and coyotes, slowly rediscovering its natural rhythms and seasons. Now it feels like it’s time to open the trails again. We’ve cut through the brush that has grown up and are cutting through the fallen trunks to allow our passage.
We bought this farm from eighty-two-year-old Morton Lawrence, who loved every tree here. After spending seventy-nine years here, he treasure each one for its history, its fruit, its particular place in the ground – and he would only use the wood if God had felled the tree himself. Morton directed us to revere the trees as he had, and so we have.
This beautiful description is found in the new anthology by Redbud Writers Guild, “Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives.” The writing prompt that follows this essay is to the point and poignantly appropriate on this Good Friday – “Describe a time when you had to fight for your faith.”
Meditating on the Friday that Jesus was crucified feels hopeless to me. Now, with history on our side, we have the privilege of knowing the end of the story. But then…
I cannot imagine how His loved ones felt, or how hard they had to fight for their faith. What despair, that the life giver was now before them, losing his own life. What hope did death bring before the saving gift of a Savior?
The words of Emily Gibson provide that death-defying hope, that in the face of death we can rest assure that “God had felled the tree himself.” We can be comforted to “use the wood” because the hands of our Maker destined it to be so. In Christ’s death, we are given grace upon grace, and the gift is beckoning out of the dark truth that God himself ordained this atrocity.
Today, let us rest in the fact that God felled the tree, allowing us the freedom to take the gifts that came because of His death. Death is scary and horrible unless we find it in the context of a divine ordinance. We must cling to this while we wait for the good news of Sunday.
**Stay tuned for more excerpts and prompts from this wonderful anthology, Everbloom which is available for preorder now! I’ll also be giving away TWO copies next week. Sign up here to receive an email update so you don’t miss it.