The Tree

Today, “the tree” came down. I was guessing this massive oak tree must have been about 75 years old. While I am no arborist, I was able to count about 71 rings (give or take a few).

It was a strong, beautiful oak tree in the courtyard of the church property. But we are needing to expand our facilities and prepare ourselves and future generations for growth and service.

At first, I thought, “What’s the big deal about cutting down a tree. After all, it’s just a tree.” But like most of my “knee-jerk” reactions to things, I was wrong. And here’s how I came to the conclusion I was wrong.

It has only been two years since I said a final goodbye to 205 Virginia Avenue, Chester, WV. That address has been home to my parents and me for the past 51 years.  Following my dad’s death, I remember vividly emptying all of our belongings out of that house. And while the family went to the car, I did one final walk through alone. And I cried like a little boy. No one could ever convince me that it was just bricks and mortar. It was so much more than that. It was home.  It’s where I was loved, raised, praised, and disciplined.  It’s where I was taught how to live.

It was in this house where my mom would read me Bible stories, and even teach the neighborhood children.  It was in this house that I would “holler” to my dad from my bedroom late at night to ask him Bible questions.  And instead of telling me it was bed time, he would take the time to “holler” back answers and explanations until I was satisfied.  It was in this house that my sister and I would fold church bulletins on TV trays every Saturday night, and fuss about who had to fold the most.

It was in the shadow of this house that I played hide-n-seek, “army,” baseball, basketball, football, and street hockey. It was on the sidewalks of this house that my dad taught me how to ride a bike. It was here where I learned to mow a yard, and trim/edge a sidewalk (without a weed-eater).  And it was here that my dad taught me how to meticulously care for a car.

And then it dawned on me that for similar reasons to the ones I listed above, “the tree” was so much more than “just a tree.” It was a part of history, our history. It was there when people raised their children. It was there and provided shade while many enjoyed some of the best times of their lives. It “photo-bombed” many family photos. It’s beauty was appreciated every time people came to worship God at the Karns church building. And now it is gone.

Change. Seldom do we want it, and even rarer do we embrace it. But the key to processing change is to remember that life is a never ending succession of changes.

Many years ago, a tree was cut down for it’s lumber. That lumber was then hewn into two posts. Those posts were later arranged together in the form of a cross; the cross upon which Jesus purchased our redemption. The felling of that tree meant life for us. In a similar vein, it is my hope that the felling of “our tree” will make a way to more effectively, and expediently reach the lost, train preachers, and edify the saints.

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