The Ole' Oak Tree
Growing up in Michigan, there was never a shortage of trees to climb. Especially old oaks. Life wasn’t like today where kids sit in front of a tablet screen or television for entertainment. When it was time for fun, we went outside!
Living towards the end of a quiet dead-end suburban road with mostly elderly neighbors gave the few kids on the street the run of the place. Not only did we live at the end of a dead-end road, but we had a creek that went all the way around the back of the neighborhood. The creek ran fifty feet below the level of the homes, so we could go down and build our forts, explore, and get into all types of trouble.
Over the years, we would build forts in the trees, under the trees, around the trees, and with the trees. Being creative was what it was all about whether it rained, snowed, or was just a hot summer day.
Looking back, I guess I should consider myself very blessed to have had the chance to grow up in a place where we had the freedom to explore and create (as long as we didn’t go beyond my mother’s dinner call from out the back door that is…).
It wasn’t all fun and games, though. At the very back of our lot, we had a tall oak tree you would think God made just for climbing. On one occasion, I was challenged to see just how far I could climb. So, being young and stupid, I did just that.
After climbing nearly fifty feet up the tree, my foot slipped, and I grabbed a branch to keep from falling. There I was, fifty feet in the air, hanging by a weak branch. Thankfully, our kitchen window was facing the back yard and mother heard the kids scream and, after looking out the window, screamed herself!
It was just a matter of seconds when I saw my stepfather, Chick, run outside and climb that tree faster than any human I’d ever seen. He reached out and grabbed my arm and at the same time, the branch broke. I remember the moment he possibly saved my life very well to this day. Believe me, I never climbed that tree like that again.
Going to the top of a dangerous climb on a dare may not be the worst thing someone could do, but it certainly wasn’t the wisest. Having the experience of nearly falling from that great height only to be saved by the strong hand of my stepfather, kept me from making that choice in the future and taught me a little bit of wisdom.
God is that way with us in our adult life too. Often, especially when we’re younger, we’ll make quick decisions without considering the consequences. We’ll try something dangerous because someone challenged us to or just think we need to prove something to ourselves and wind up making bad choices.
Earlier tonight, I was watching a video a friend had posted on Facebook of people doing stupid things when they were drunk. Most of them were funny, but, truth be told, they were also sad.
Most of those in the video may not remember those moments later, but the ones who were hurt will. I consider those moments, embarrassing as they are, as teaching moments in our life.
No one is perfect. All too often, people feel they need to be. They punish themselves over every mistake they make. Learning from our mistakes teaches us wisdom. Beating ourselves up over them, only keeps us from learning that wisdom and sets us up for failure.
Thankfully, we have a loving God who sees when we’re at the top of that tree hanging by a weak limb and runs to us to save us. He knows we’ll make bad choices and gives us the freedom to do so. He also gave us a way for redemption for those choices. His love allows the failures and helps to fix them after they’re done.
So, today, here’s to that ole’ oak tree that helped teach me a life lesson that, even though we make dumb choices sometimes, we have a loving Father who comes to our rescue if we just call…
Love always friends,
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