“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” These words are the first lines of a poem I learned years ago by a poet named Joyce Kilmer. Not only was Kilmer a poet, he was a devout Christian and a great patriot who lost his life in World War 1 after volunteering in the US Army. What got me to thinking about his poem, titled simply, ‘Trees,’ was a post made by a Facebook friend about his observation of trees and the vines that sometimes grow up around them.
At first, my friend thought he was seeing a huge snake wrapped around the tree, but on closer inspection, realized it was a giant vine that had grown up the tree’s trunk. Then he saw other trees in the area also had vines. While the vines seemed to be supporting the trees in some way, the trees, to him, looked dejected and stunted by the vines’ choking hold on their trunks. Some of the vines had curled themselves around the smaller branches of one tree and attached themselves to the branches of neighboring trees close by. What an intrusive force they seemed to be.
His next observation was what really drew my attention. A few of the trees … ones that were taller and perhaps stronger that the others …had somehow managed to break away from the vine at some point and grow strong and healthy above it. What a lesson we can find in these trees, I thought.
A few days later, while riding in the car here in Indiana, I saw a group of trees exactly like the ones my Facebook friend had described. Then I began to see the trees as people…people whom God had created to live long and free in a world without sin. Free to grow and explore within the bounds He had set for us. Then sin, like these wretched vines…that looked so much like a snake…had made its way into the world and wrapped itself around the people; choking them off and stunting the growth God had intended for us all to achieve.
Then I remembered my friend saying that some of the trees had broken away from the vines and grew taller and stronger than the others. If only these trees could share their secret strength with the others and reach out to them as the vines had. Or were they afraid to? Sin is not timid or mindful of whose mind or heart it invades. It has no fear of being rejected… for other willing victims are always close by.
We, as Christians, must develop an even stronger determination to defeat the power of sin and prevent its spread into the hearts of those around us. The future of our world depends on it. We must share God’s love and His promises with those around us. Let us take this lesson from the trees and pray that the vines of sin be broken away that we all might come to know the full joy of serving the Lord without the weight of sin that works so hard to hold us back.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the power of sin is broken… just as with the taller, more healthy trees…the vine (sin) is still there, but no longer has the power to choke… as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus.
Trees are one of God’s most precious creations. They give us oxygen, which gives us life. As Joyce Kilmer said: “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”