The Tale of the Tree {Learning to Lean}

We met for tea, although neither of us had planned it. Her sigh drew me in as she sat across the way. We exchanged smiles out of sheer politeness and when our eyes met, we couldn’t break away. It’s as if both of us knew we had to know more. There was story to be shared today.

She waved me over and it surprised me how fast I scrambled to get there. Me, an introvert more than half her age. And she…I still can’t find the words. Her beautiful lines of wisdom glowed grace. And every time I looked in her eyes, I saw His reflection.

Small chat came hard for us both. Still we tried to be courteous. When she asked what my favorite season was, my heart finally broke free.

I responded so quickly I startled her. She sat back in her chair as if she was bracing herself for the response to her next question:

“Why Fall? Don’t you dread what’s to come?”

My smile turned to a chuckle as I recognized the road we were headed on. People have tried to break me of this before and I was up for the challenge.

“Oh no…and I don’t dread winter, either. But let’s just ponder the tree…It knows what lies ahead. And yet it seizes the season it’s in. It keeps its branches outstretched in praise. What’s more, it goes out with vibrancy. As if it’s laughing at the pressure of what’s to come…or simply believes in his Creator enough to know it will make it through. I want to be like that tree. Using every season I’m in for His glory…trusting with vibrancy…

Thoughts trail me as I trace the hem of the napkin folded on my lap. Silence grows thick and I look up to read her face.

She digs deep in my eyes, searching for what I wasn’t yet sure. My cheeks flush as another moment passes by. And as soon as I part my lips to give my explanation another go, her voice breaks.

She gracefully replies,

“All my years I’ve never thought of it like that before.
Thank you for showing me Jesus today.”

Her eyes looked beyond me as she shared of the oak tree in her front yard. The one that wasn’t supposed to be there. When they bought the house, experts mentioned it was near its end. The tree’s seasons would soon expire.

So they planted another next to it. To take its place when that day came.

Only it never did. For decades, those trees shared seasons together.

I lean in to hear the rest. And tears pooled in both our eyes as she described what they looked like today.

The older tree’s branches now surround the younger one. Winds have already stripped the evidence of life from the elder’s tree and yet the smaller one was still brilliantly glistening Autumn. Completely vibrant as it takes shelter under the other. Protected from the elements.

We both sat in silence as we allowed Him to permeate our thoughts. Receive the lesson He had for both of us here. Finally she whispered,

“Nikki, you’re right. I want to be like that tree, too.
One who leans into Jesus…who reflects His vibrancy.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friends, if I had known who she was then, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to follow my heart and join her. I’m afraid I would have missed out on the sweet communion He had planned for me.

She could have told me parts of her story that would have put me in awe. Convinced me of her unwavering faith. Made me anxious to learn more from her.

But she didn’t.

Instead, she shared her own struggles. Some that have followed her through many seasons. And she asked we both pray for each other…so we may grow into this tree.

May we learn to lean…Trust with vibrancy.

And I will be forever grateful to her.
For allowing me to commune with her over tea.

Friends, she showed me Jesus.

How about you? Have you ever been in a mentoring relationship? Who has shown you Jesus lately? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him
as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18

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He’s Here…And He’s Got This {Jehovah Shammah}

The mighty maple sways valiantly as it dances with sun’s rays. It’s branches give way to chorus as remaining leaves join the sparrow’s serenade. With each crescendo, a vibrant leaf descends and finds rest among its fallen comrades.

We’ve met countless times, this tree and I. With each visit, my vision is drawn upwards, looking for the story this maple brings. And no matter how many times I see it’s tale, it always feels new. There’s no other way to describe it — this tree embraces each day. With each season, stretches tall, pointing towards the One who never changes.

It’s as if the maple understands. Knows his Creator is right here. Always here…delighting in its performance.

The tree praises no matter what comes its way.

And as I walk among the vibrant aftermath of autumn, I feel His presence and know. Life has many seasons but one thing will always be present. One thing will always remain the same:

Jehovah Shammah…The LORD is HERE.

I’ve researched the origin of this Name of God and discovered it first rolled off of Ezekiel’s lips. He was naming the new city, their Jerusalem, and named it after Jehovah Shammah (reference HERE). Zechariah prophecies the transition this Name would take as he uses it to describe Jesus’ coming (HERE). And it is used a few times in the New Testament to remind believers that Jesus’ death extended God’s presence to live among us today through the body of Christ.

My mind’s eye sees the circle of life this Name of God took. First naming what would have been the church for Ezekiel all the way around to Jesus extending this promise to me. By His death ensuring this same God will be here for me as I claim my presence as one of His children.

Yes, Jehovah Shammah permeates the body of Christ.

God permeates me. To think:

Friends, He’s got me covered. This Season I’m in? He’s got this.

And as I stand in the shade this mighty maple brings, my hands instinctively mimic its branches. Both heels raise as I emulate its posture of praise. And I join the church I find myself in today and worship. Thank You, Father…for never leaving me. You’re always here…Jehovah Shammah.

Branches part, allowing the sun to touch my face.
And I am warmed by the very thought of Him.

It’s no secret the season I’m in now has left me aching. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve pleaded for Jesus to come quickly. But as I’ve shared before, I still can’t deny it: He’s never left my side.

That’s my Jehovah Shammah.

I curl into my favorite resting place, a cup of hot nutella chocolate in hand, and open up my studies of this very Name. A reference in Psalm catches my eye and I scurry to read what it has to say.

Friends, if I didn’t have proof before, I do now as He extends Himself to me through His Word. Reminding me once again:
He’s got this. He’s got me. He’s here.

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Father, I see You here. And I can’t think of a greater gift than to be surrounded with Your grace every day. Thank You doesn’t seem enough, but here I stand, offering what I have to You. My Jehovah Shammah. May this humble life I lead point others to You in whatever season I find myself in. And no matter what comes my way, may I dig my heels into Your promises clinging to You with every breath. For then I’ll know…You’re not going anywhere without me. And this thing I can’t see beyond? You’ve got it covered. To You be all glory and honor. Forever and ever…my Jehovah Shammah.

How about you, friend? How have you seen Jehovah Shammah lately? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: This post is a part of my Names of God Series. You may read others by CLICKING HERE.

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