The tree in the photo below is located in front of my grandmother’s church, Antioch UMC in Gainesville, GA. We were there this week doing mission work through the church’s youth outreach program, called GAP (Gainesville Aid Project). It’s been a while since I’ve seen the tree and didn’t know that had been through weather that had caused it’s top to come down. It’s sad, really. The tree used to tower over the yard; long branches pushing outward, creating perfect shade on those hot Summer days. But amazing enough, even after terrible damage and the loss of part of it’s structure, that tree is still there—refusing to give up and pressing on. I guess you could say I’m proud of that tree (if that’s such a thing).
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. —Mark 9
What does it mean to be ‘whole’? Do we cease to exist when part of us goes missing—be it a leg or a loved one? No, our worth and our value extend far beyond our associations or capabilities (and even the lack thereof). God’s will for our lives is that we would receive life from above, an everlasting life. That gift transcends the here and now or even the “usefulness” each of us strive after throughout this earthly life. We don’t have to be “all together” to receive that gift, mainly because it’s the life we receive from God that makes us whole in the first place.
Don’t give in to the temptation to remain “in tact,” and risk losing your God-given-self. God’s value for your life is very different than your own. Like the tree, you may want to provide shade but God may want you to be a symbol of life and of overcoming life’s obstacles.