Growing a Tree of Faith – The Trunk
“The man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed.
He will be like a tree planted by water:
it sends its roots out
toward a stream,
it doesn’t fear
when heat comes,
and its foliage remains green.
It will not worry in a year of drought
or cease producing fruit” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
The roots of God’s vision in my life were being nourished. The more I spent time with the Lord the greater the desire grew to want more of what He had to offer.
My answer came through the surrender. When I laid the retreat down and picked up my pursuit of just loving Jesus, He had greater access to freely develop my character as He needed to.
The trunk of a tree is a great portion of its strength. The roots build a sturdy foundation underground and the trunk continues to build the strength above it. As the tree ages, the trunk gets higher and wider. The trunk tells the story of how old the tree is. It also holds characteristics of the kind of tree that it is. For example, a maple tree has red markings on the inside of the trunk.
The trunk is also resilient. An animal like a racoon or woodpecker can make a nest in a tree without taking the whole thing down. People can put taps into the trunk of certain trees and produce maple syrup from them without drying the trees completely out. A storm can come blowing in and the trunk of the tree will either stand firm or it may sway and bend, but will bounce back into its original place afterwards. It takes great force to knock down a strong tree trunk.
The Lord was firming up my character and developing the ‘rings’ of faith within my trunk. That’s when the story developed further for me.
Michael and I were standing in an abandoned building. Some furniture was still around, but everything for the most part had been emptied out. As he toured me around, it’s like the Lord showed me a movie reel of my life. Every job, ministry, and event I went through finally made sense. It was like I had a large drink of Living Water refresh my soul. I saw all the experiences and skills He developed in me in order to be able to run the retreat. He also gave me a much bigger picture of what it would look like as well. It went from having a few cottages at the back of our property someday to a community where more people could attend and step away from the busyness of life to be with the Lord and be discipled. A place of peace and rekindling of hope.
I stood in that abandoned building and wept. I was so grateful for this gift that the Lord had given me. I was finally grateful for everything I had endured in life because it now had purpose. It reminded me that the Lord truly does work all things “together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
I hid that treasure within my heart that day. I thanked the Lord and continued doing what He had placed on my heart for the here and now. I knew that I didn’t have the resources to develop this retreat yet, but I had a much greater trust that He was going to do it.
I was sharing this story a few months later with a friend. She asked if I had been dedicating my time to really praying about it with the Lord. I honestly told her no. I figured the Lord would show me in His due time. She challenged me to step it up and really get serious about pursuing this dream. He was showing me that He was working on it, but I felt a little ‘gun-shy’ after all the times I tried to work it out myself.
However, this time was different.
“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” – Luke 11:9-13
He was calling me into persistent pursuit. I took the principles I learned while He planted the seed and roots of hope into me, and I spent more intentional time to sit with Jesus. I asked, searched, and knocked because I knew this was something He wanted for my life. It was a goal and desire that He planted in me, not something I was trying to pursue from my own mind. Therefore, I knew that I could boldly come to Him and ask.
“Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” – 1 John 5:14-15
By spending time nourishing my soul by the streams of Living Water, I was getting more and more direction and clarity for the plans of the retreat. He showed me exactly what it was supposed to look like. He told me who it was going to serve. Then the most beautiful thing happened. I realized that the retreat wasn’t the final goal. It was only another resource and place to serve the people the Lord was calling me to. It was going to be the provision to make things happen.
The rings of the tree of faith were growing and my trust was becoming firmer as the trunk grew higher and wider. I was learning to believe God’s truth more and more that He will do what He said He will. God doesn’t lie. His plans were developed long ago in an incredibly, interconnected picture we will learn about one day.