Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 15, 2009

The Fallen Tree

I first encountered the fallen tree on one of my treks into the Texas Hill Country in the early 1980’s. I had no way of knowing exactly when or how it had fallen. But there it was, lying on its side with its massive arms reaching up to heaven. I stood in silence before the fallen giant trying to imagine the great force that had weakened its grasp and brought it crashing to the rocky ground.

Fallen Tree A in 12-2015
This imposing tree that had once stood upright was determined to live. This was a tree to be admired and respected. It had experienced a calamity that altered its posture but it did not stop growing. The evidence was there before me — branches that defiantly reached skyward with leaves gently shimmering in the breeze. This tree refused to give up. Instead, it found new ways to grow.

Fallen Tree B in 12-2015
The Psalmist declared that all things are God’s servants (Psalm 119:91). And indeed, the fallen tree rendered a noble service to God as it silently taught me the meaning of perseverance. Over the ten years that I visited the tree my own life was struck by numerous storms.

Fallen Tree C in 12-2015
There were times when I wondered about my future and whether it was worth staying in the fight. There were times when I felt too weak to raise my arms and periods when I labored to exhaustion without the refreshment of an encouraging word. There were even moments when I actually entertained thoughts of doing something else, anything else. And, more than once I was the only guest at my own pity party! On those occasions God would remind me of the tree — and the tree’s upraised branches would point me to God.

Fallen Tree D in 12-2015
God used the fallen tree to remind me that giving up is not an option, regardless of how severe the blow. There are always new and creative ways to grow. The tree also reminded me that failure never has to be final and defeat never has to be devastating. Those who have experienced and survived failure can attest to the fact that some of life’s greatest lessons are learned when we are lying helplessly on our backs.

Fallen Tree E in 12-2015
A change in posture often gives us a new and uncommon perspective. The great thing about getting knocked down is that we are forced to look up. So, I am grateful that a hike through the Texas Hill Country introduced me to a new friend — the fallen tree. Of the countless trees I have hiked past in the Texas Hill Country, none stand taller than this tree. It’s been more than twenty years since I visited my fallen friend, but I’m confident that it’s still reaching skyward.

Fallen Tree F in 12-2015
Disappointments, defeats, and disasters are no respecters of persons. When we least expect it our lives can be struck hard by disastrous reverses that leave us disoriented or send us crashing to the ground. When we are struck and stunned by life’s blows we can either stay down or find new ways to grow. I prefer the latter. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you get knocked to the ground.

• Uncertainties will come. Be prepared!

• Life is not fair. Accept it!

• You will get knocked down. Deal with it!

• If you can get back up — do it!

• If you can’t get back up — find a new way to grow!

• Never give up. Dust yourself off and press on!

• • • • •

Note| When you get the wind knocked out of you or you get knocked to the ground, look to God’s Word for guidance. I have compiled helpful Bible verses for such times and posted them on my Bible Teaching Notes website under the heading Where to Look. Take a moment to go there and bookmark the page for future reference.

I returned to visit the fallen tree in December 2015. The tree was still there, lying on its side, only bigger than I remember. Seeing the tree again was like finding an old friend. The photos in this post are from that latest visit.


Responses

  1. Omar,
    Being your sister-in-law, I remember you sharing with us about the “Fallen tree” at the ranch in Leakey. What a wonderful story to share with others~~how we need to keep finding ways to grow and not to give up! Thank you for reminding me once, again! You will be in our prayers, as you travel to India next week. We will look forward to hearing from you!

  2. Omar,
    We live in a neighborhood with many mature trees. Glancing off to the right as I am writing I see an oak with its branches fairly devoid of a coat of leaves. Against the blue sky the branches almost remind me of looking at a cerebral arteriogram when working Interventional Radiology. Trees remind me a bit like humans in regards to analogy, hence your ability to also make the leap. They are strong yet resilient. They remain through the seasons, whether covered with leaves or stripped bare until their life cycle is complete and they return to the earth. But back to the view of a cerebral arteriogram: as we shoot the dye to obtain the pictures what is inside the skull becomes apparent. These “branches” are nourished with a life-giving blood flow, just as the branches of a tree receive their nourishment from the tap root tucked down into the earth. The earth sustains, replenishes and nurtures creation. The Creator, takes care of us. smile

    *On a professional note I am just mildly envious of your upcoming trip to visit the facility started by Mother Teresa. Actually, let me just be truthful. Jealous. Yeah, I am jealous!

    Tammy

  3. Omar, that old oak tree in Leakey that you referenced in your blog has special meaning for me too. Twenty one years ago , almost to the day, I sought God’s will for my life at the base of that tree following Bill’s untimely death. Its skyward reach , resilency, and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of displaced roots, rocky soil, and an upside down life seemed to mimic my situation at the time. And yet, we both survived. To this day, I believe God used that broken down oak tree to show me the way when no words could penetrate the grief.
    My prayers go with you to India. May your efforts be fruitful and may God keep you safe.


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