The path I followed with my dog passed the park I used to take my boys to almost daily. My pup paused near a familiar corner, by the picnic table, but it felt different. I looked up and saw blue sky where I should have seen a canopy of branches. The tree I’d sought refuge under in those juice box years, the low limbs my boys had turned into horses, was gone.
I looked down to see if the stump told its story. What remained was a telltale, two-tone picture: a caramel brown horseshoe, bordered by black, shriveled pieces of rot that filled the rest of the circle. This tree, with its limbs that leaned their shade and held my children, was depleted inside. It could no longer live from a hollowed-out place.
I’ve done this too. So many things—rejection, insecurity, unforgiveness, anxiety, grief, doubt—can weaken and blacken my roots. Yet I’ve kept my arms stretched out to others while hollowed out inside. Without even realizing, those brittle and broken pieces that start in the dirt rise, seeping into my thoughts, my tongue, my choices.
A hollowed-out heart can’t keep stretching strong. Limbs will break, leaves will brown.
But the stump of this tree tells a story that’s different than ours. With us, there is no “too far gone.” Our hearts are not stumps. We are never beyond healing. When I invite Him, God touches those blackened places. He mends my roots. And I can stretch my limbs far once again.
I can keep growing.
There is always hope where He is tending and planting.
“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green” (Psalm 92:12-14).