By DANNY MINTON
When I was in elementary school, my mother planted a peach tree in our backyard. That was the time when during the summer months all the kids played outside in either your yard or some neighbor’s yard. Ours was no different. It was a football field, baseball field, and golf course.
There were clotheslines with Yellow Jacket nests in the ends of the poles. There was a swing set, part of which worked. We had a chain link fence with a gate to the alley, with honeysuckle vines growing the entire length of the fence and of course more Yellow Jacket nests mingled with a few honeybees. One spring my mother decided to plant this peach tree in the backyard on about the 10-yard line. Since the backyard is the domain of every young boy, the tree was crowding several athletic activities. It covered the end zone and part of the infield making us move the baseball park to the other end of the yard, but still needing to utilize the whole area.
One summer the tree looked much like the one in the pictures you see in magazines, well-shaped with full leaves and blossoms starting to emerge. As you know, summer is baseball season and with baseball season comes gloves, balls, bats, and bases. The peach tree was third base.
Then that summer came the incident. I’m not sure what made it transpire, but nevertheless, it happened. My little brother, baseball bat in hand, proceeded to take the peach tree apart, limb by limb, top to bottom. By the time he was through one whole side of the tree was completely gone. It looked like a buzz saw had gotten hold of the north side of this little peach tree. About that time my mother exited to the backyard flinging open the screen door. I’ll leave the rest of this incident to your imagination.
It crushed my mother that this had happened. Her beautiful tree now looked rather lopsided, to say the least. Somehow it made it through the summer, winter and then in the spring it began to bring on new life. The limbs on the victimized side began to sprout, and before you knew it, the tree looked as if it had never gone through any trial at all. In fact, after my brother’s carefully planned pruning job, the tree came out better than before, producing peaches that same summer.
Life is much like the peach tree. We can go on day to day with things looking and feeling just great. We grow and blossom and enjoy the world around us. Then one day something happens, and it seems like the entire world comes crumbling down around us. We wonder “how can I go on after this?” We retreat to a shell or become angry at the world and wonder again “why me, Lord, why me?”
But God in the midst of our trials still says, “I love you” and puts his arm around you and helps you make it through those tough times. It may take a while, but eventually, you can overcome the devastation and once again grow back to being the person you were before, but this time better for having weathered tough times. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
So next time you feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to your life and heart, leaving your life seemingly lopsided, just remember that God is still there beside you, nourishing you and encouraging you not to give up and reminding you that you’ll bloom again.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ