My weekend travels with my family took us into the country farming areas on our way to visit the school where my son teaches. The landscape was not one I am used to with its wide open fields speckled with rolls of hay bales and cattle. Where I live, oak trees are trimmed regularly in anticipation of hurricane season so homes can be assured of some measure of safety from flying limbs and branches.
Along the drive, we happened upon an oak tree which was larger and spanned more area than I had ever seen before. The expanse was so dramatic that my husband knew I would need to get a picture. Without me needing to ask, he turned the car around and backtracked long enough for me to capture its stature, which was too large to fit within the frame of my camera. I was intrigued by the long, protruding branches stretching out from the trunk and draping along the ground.
I wondered how many years the tree had been standing and how many storms it had been through. I also wondered how many cattle had found shelter beneath the branches through the years, and how many birds nested within the safety of the mingled limbs. The tree looked strong and untamed as it cast shadows across the ground. There wasn’t really any great beauty to the tree, but it held a timely quality and a permanence.
Throughout the day, the image of the tree rolled around in my mind. I thought about my own physical shelter. The home I have lived in for 17 years is nothing special and certainly not my dream home, but it has been a good home for raising a family and has managed to withstand plenty of tropical storms. The walls have stretched to welcome guests and provided shelter for others in need along the way. Many times I have not always been thankful for the shelter of my home and have even complained about things not getting fixed or updated. The tree reminds me to choose gratitude for the safe and constant shelter my home has provided my family.
The far reaching limbs which draped low enough to scoop up birds and other creatures to safety reminded me of how God’s arms stretch to rescue me from the storms of my own life. They come to where I am, requiring only that I surrender. The shelter is always present, and no storms of life are too great to topple it over. My storms, like yours never ask permission to enter my life, but as they do, I know I have a place I can rest my head in the cool shade of God’s expanse. His arms will always welcome and continually provide comfort and safety. I am reminded to choose gratitude for my spiritual shelter as my journey of ThanksLiving continues.
What are you adding to your ThanksLiving wall, and how is your gratitude growing as we make our way into the next week of our challenge?
“It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” Isaiah 4:6