It’s official…I’m a tree hugger. Not the kind that straps herself to a tree and dares the bulldozers. I’m not that brave, and I have a proper fear of large machinery.
What I mean is that I recently found myself in an embrace with a giant redwood tree.
This week, my husband and I set out on a three-week adventure, first traveling through Northern California. We drove through The Avenue of Giants, a protected area of giant coastal redwood trees. Some of these ancient trees have exceeded the age of 2,000 years and have a span 23 feet in diameter or more!
We parked our Jeep, and as we wandered through a grove and cast our eyes up, trying to see the tops, I felt drawn to lay my hand on the rough bark. One thing led to another, as things often do; and the next thing I knew, my arms were out, my cheek pressed against the red, fuzzy bark, my eyes were closed and a little smile was on my face.
If there had been anyone else around besides my hubby (and he already knows I am prone to peculiarity), I would have felt silly.
Instead, as I stood there, I started to pray and tears came to my eyes.
I realized that the incredibly enormous and ancient organism that stood there with me had been alive on earth when God had reached down and walked on earth in the form of Jesus Christ. I imagined this tree as a small sapling, a living witness, and a part of the same earth that Jesus was walking on.
The great realness of what God did for me came rushing into my heart. The colossal tree became a living, if not breathing, reminder of the great gift God had given to me. God had become fully human and fully God at the same time and had been as real as the tree I now had my arms wrapped around. That’s what brought the tears and then the prayers of thanks as I stood there in the quiet forest.
I share my tree-hugging experience to bring across one point and, hopefully, deliver it into your hands and heart, dear friends.
You can find things in the natural world around you to remind you how very real Jesus is.
You may not find yourself hugging trees, but I am sure God is revealing His realness to you in a thousand ways if you could train your senses to see, hear, and feel them.
It takes intention. It takes attention. It takes focus.
It may require a settling of your heart away from the tyranny of the immediate and towards the Spirit of God.
The Bible story of Mary and Martha comes to mind…
In Luke 10, we hear that Jesus visits his friends, Mary and Martha. Martha is very busy preparing dinner for her many guests, which in itself is not a bad thing, but she is distracted by the tyrannies of the immediate and misses Christ’s presence. Mary, on the other hand, intentionally looks for Jesus in the crowded room and sits down at His feet. It is there that Mary listens for and receives the gifts Christ offers.
And Jesus affirms this clearly when he says,
“…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Since my tree hugging training with the redwoods, attention AND intention keeps bringing God gifts!
I shared my redwood encounter with my friend, Karen, as we visited her. The next day while we hiked through a wooded glen, she stopped suddenly, reached for my hand and said, “Look! A butterfly!” Because she was watching and listening, she saw first one, then two and then three white butterflies begin to dance through the air together, swirling as three but also as one. She turned to me and said with a joyful smile, “Namra! Three as one… like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!” Karen has begun to see what God is sending her in these simple moments.
Well, friends, it’s time for me to get back in my Jeep and get on the road. I’ve got a mountain to hike and more Jesus reminders to find. I want to leave you with some ponders; I hope you are able to turn them into actions. If you’re willing, use these to become a “Tree Hugger In Training!”
What have been your tree-hugger moments and how can you make more?
How have you been reminded that Christ is real, is here and is now?
What are some steps you can take to move away from distractions and embrace “what is better”?
May God meet you in the small wonders of this world, and may you feel the realness of Christ around you every day.