Planted to Survive . . . to Thrive


Somewhere on a peak in the Cibola National Forest lives a tree declaring wisdom . . .


Five of us climbed into the SUV and left the 80° temperatures in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As we made our way into the mountains, the outside temperature dropped. By the time we reached the mountain-top parking in the Cibola National Forest, the temperature indicator read 50°. The cool temps and strong winds urged us into jackets and hats.


That day I was using my wheelchair and was grateful for the paved walkways. But soon the pavement ended. I was parked and the others continued on the narrow dirt path.


Below I could see the city. Behind, pines dotted the area. Right in front of me, on the mountain’s edge, grew a tree. A tree misshapen and worn by full exposure to raw winds and cold. A tree with a difficult life. Yet it was surviving and growing.


I felt a kinship to the tree’s story. It had not chosen where to be planted. And God was providing everything it needed—sunshine and rain—to live.


If the tree could speak, perhaps this is what it would say:


Winds mangle and cold ravages. Yet, I am a survivor. Planted on the mountain crest by the Creator of the valley below and the deep blue expanse above.


Season after season, year after year, my roots inch deeper. Anchoring. Infusing resilience. Sometimes I crave a sheltered place of beauty and ease. But then I remember clear summer nights when low-hanging stars wink and whisper their Maker’s praise. Or soft winter days when fluffy snowflakes, each uniquely created, nestle in my outstretched arms.


Then I know. This is where I am closest to my Creator. Where He planted me to survive, to thrive.


He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3 ESV


(I plan to include a shorter version of this in a book on the topic of suffering coming out next year.)

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