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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Three Trees

Photo Credit:  Burbulas from
I hope you all had a joyfully blessed Easter with your family and friends.  I don’t know about you, but one of the things that really hit home with me was just how good it felt to sing Alleluia again.  Except for that one time we forgot (oopsie!) and belted out an Alleluia song with much gusto during Lent, we hadn’t spoken a word of Alleluia for forty long days!  I missed it.

During the Easter Vigil Mass, there was a precious elderly woman who was so moved by the Holy Spirit that she just stood up in her pew, all alone, and started gently swaying, smiling, and clapping.  It was obvious that she was deeply touched.  She absolutely did not care that no other soul was standing in that church.  It was beautiful really.  I loved watching her embrace the hope of Easter.  I loved watching her soak in the glory of the risen Lord.  I loved that she felt the intensity of God’s love in her heart so much so, that she just couldn’t sit any longer.  I loved it.

During each Lenten season, I seem to learn a bit more about God and His love for me.  I seem to learn a bit more about myself too.  Sometimes, I try to put God in terms that I understand.  I try to figure out His love in all the ways that I understand love.  But, every Lent, I realize that His love is so much bigger than I can possibly imagine.  I think I’ve come to realize that it’s okay that I can’t figure Him out completely.  Maybe I’m not supposed to yet?

But, I will continue to learn, study, and pray, even after Lent is over.  I will remember God’s life-giving promises long after Easter has come and gone for another year.  I know I’ve mentioned prayer a gazillion and one times, but I just recognize its importance more and more with each passing day.  I think that prayer keeps us on the right track when we are weak.  I think prayer is the perfect way to include God in our daily decision-making.

There is a cute little Irish story from Mikey’s Funnies about prayer that I have to share:
Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn't find a parking space.  Looking up to heaven, he said, "Lord, take pity on me.  If you find me a parking space, I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me Irish whiskey!"

Miraculously, a parking space suddenly appeared.

Paddy looked up again and said, "Never mind.  I found one."

That’s about right, huh?!  We’re so sure that we can handle everything all by ourselves that when God does answer a prayer, we think we’re the ones who made it all happen.  As much as we think we are the ones in control; we really aren’t.  Fortunately, we don’t have to be.  When God takes the wheel, the ride is a whole lot smoother.

Aunt Irene sent a heart-warming story about three trees that I’m sure you’ll enjoy:

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods.  They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest.  I could be filled with gold, silver, and precious gems.  I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see the beauty.”

Then the second tree said, “Someday I will be a mighty ship.  I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world.  Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”

Finally the third tree said, “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest.  People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching.  I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees.  When one came to the first tree, he said, “This looks like a strong tree.  I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,” and he began cutting it down.  The tree was happy because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest. 

At the second tree, the woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree.  I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.”  The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down, his dreams would not come true.  One of the woodsmen said, “I don't need anything special from my tree.  I'll take this one,” and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenter’s, he was made into a feed box for animals.  He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay.  This was not at all what he had prayed for.
The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat.  His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. 

The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.  The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.   

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn.  The woman gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree.  The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do.  The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree.  One of them was tired and went to sleep.  While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe.  The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said, “Peace,” and the storm stopped.  At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat. 

Finally, someone came and got the third tree.  It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it.  When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill.

When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.  

Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.  We don't always know what God's plans are for us either.  We know that His Ways are not always our ways, but His ways are ALWAYS best. 
When things don't seem to be going right, we should take heart in knowing that God has a plan for us.  If we place our trust in Him, God will provide us with countless gifts.   What we think we need or pray for isn’t always given to us in the same way we think our prayers should be answered.  However, when we come face to face with our Lord, we will realize a depth of fulfillment and a wondrous blessing that is truly beyond our wildest imagination!

Just remember the three trees this week.  God’s plan wasn’t their plan.  God’s plan for them was better.  God’s plan for them was bigger.  If God had a plan for the trees, can you just imagine what He has in store for us?  Have faith and trust in HIS plan.  Let’s try it.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

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