The Tempest Tree

If you’ve ever felt like your whole life has been uprooted, take heart from the Turner’s Oak—a 16-meter-tall giant planted in 1798 and now thriving in the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens, just south of London. In the 1980s, it was sickly and looked like it might die. Then on the 16th of October, 1987, the Great Storm hit parts of the United Kingdom, France, and the Channel Islands. It may have been the worst storm to hit since 1703 and knocked over 15 million trees in the south of England in just one hour. Among its victims was the Turner’s Oak. The wind lifted the tree by its shallow root plate completely out of the ground, violently shook it, and then set it back down again like a giant hand lifting a wine glass up by its stem and then plopping it back on the table.

The head of the arboretum, Tony Kirkham, felt like he had lost a family member: “I was devastated! Trees that you’ve been looking after, that you’ve grown to recognize and be familiar with were lying on the ground.” Tony and his fellow arborists pushed the mighty oak back in place and propped it up without much hope.

Three years later, to their amazement, the tree was a picture of health. That was when they realized that the soil around the roots had become so compacted from people walking on it that the tree wasn’t getting enough air and water. The storm shook the tree loose and gave the soil the needed porosity which enabled the oak to thrive once more.

In the 30-odd years since the storm, the Turner’s Oak has grown by a third and has inspired new methods of tree management around the globe, including equipment designed to break up the soil and enable oxygen, nitrogen, and nutrients to reach the trees’ underground root systems.

When we’re in the middle of the hurricane, we may not understand what good could possibly come from it, but when the storm breaks, new life returns. Often, we don’t know the whys and wherefores of our troubles when we’re in the midst of them, and we “can’t see the forest for the trees.” But it’s in trusting in God’s good purposes in our lives that we find rest and peace of mind.

Story courtesy of Activated magazine. Image 1 © Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Image 2 by Loz Pycock via Flickr. Some rights reserved

Leaning on Him

It’s dinnertime. It’s not exactly a party, but it is a special meal. They booked a private room, ordered the food, and now they are sitting around, eating, drinking, talking.

The leader of this disparate group of friends had seemed very eager for the supper—he’d even helped initiate the arrangements. But now he is in a serious mood.

Amid the clatter of plates and cups, he makes a shocking statement: Someone is going to let them down, someone among their number is going to betray them.

Amongst his friends, there’s one loud, outspoken fellow who often takes the lead. Like the others, he’s astonished to hear this. He really wants to know who this traitor will be, but he realizes that it probably wouldn’t be too smart to shout across the room.

There’s another quieter friend. He too is one of the closest friends of their leader. We may wonder why, because he hasn’t done anything outstanding. But whenever the leader is doing something important, there he is at his side. And tonight, at this important meal, he’s sitting close to the leader, so close that his head is almost on his shoulder.

The louder fellow motions to him. The message is clear: “Find out who this traitor is.”

The quiet one whispers a question to the leader. He replies in a soft voice. Nobody else in that busy room could make sense of the reply. Nobody else was close enough to get the message.

Spending time with Jesus - Bible story for children

It is only in sitting quietly at our Savior’s side that we hear His voice. It is only in leaning quietly upon Him that we receive the answers we seek. He promises, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

In the account of the Last Supper, we read that “the disciple whom Jesus loved was reclining next to him.” (John 13:21-29)

John’s closeness to Jesus is also evident on other occasions. John was among the faithful few who were present as Jesus died on the cross. (John 19:25-27) Then when a distant figure appeared on the beach, inviting the disciples to leave their fishing boat and join him, it was John who first recognized the risen Savior, exclaiming, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7)

Images by Elisabeth Callahan via Flickr; in public domain. Text courtesy of Activated magazine.