That time also marks the beginning of a journey of faith for me. As I stared at the lifeless form of my eleven-year-old child, I heard the whisper of God: "Do you trust me?"
It used to be beautiful, full and heavy, a fifteen-year-old Virginia Pine I planted as a seedling. But the last two winters of heavy snow and ice took their toll and bent the poor thing in half. There was no standing it up again, so I took my chainsaw and sorrowfully chopped it off. I thought about sawing it all off and pulling up the stump, but I hated to. After all, it wasn't dead.
Maybe it would come out of it. Maybe there was something worth saving.
I left one straggly branch as a goodwill token, hoping it wouldn't hate me so much and give up entirely. Secretly, I planned to wait until it officially died and then go about the gruesome task of digging it out with an appeased conscience. (Yes, I get attached to my trees. I've had some of them longer than some of my children.)
It shouldn't live. Whacking it off like that should have put it into shock too great to recover. But take a look...
That's healthy new growth sprouting on those twisted branches! There's new life inside that twisted tree. It hasn't given up.
Life can be vicious and ugly, robbing us of vitality and a will to live. The world gives us a thousand reasons to give up and die, and too often we believe it. But new life can thrive in the most unlikely places, when we let God do it through us.
Has life dealt you a tough blow? Do you feel as ugly and twisted as that tree? Don't give up on yourself too soon.
God loves to coax new life from deadwood. What you call defeat, God might call pruning. Hang in there and see what beauty he can bring from your ruins. With God, it's never too late.