This is Day 10 of 40 days of the allegorical devotional fiction, The Woman in the Wilderness.
The Sycamore – Part 1
She stepped into the garden, awed, but more than that, expectant – expectant that maybe, just maybe, she would see Him here. She had barely walked a few steps when a loud, booming voice, with a most cheerful tone, broke her out of her reverie.
“Well, hello there!”
She looked around to find who the voice was coming from, but there was no one. She gulped and muttered nervously, “Hello?”
“I’m right here, young one.”
She turned to her side, and her mouth dropped open. There beside her was a towering sycamore tree. And it was smiling at her. One big, hearty smile that, in spite her shock, made her smile back.
She tilted her head to the side as she inspected the sycamore tree, wondering why, or how, on earth it was speaking to her.
“You’ve been crying, child.”
She nodded. A lot! she thought, wondering how the tree even knew. One of the sycamore’s branches handed her an apple while the other pointed to a nearby brook.
“Get a drink. Have a bite. Sit down and listen for you are not in this forest by accident, and I am tasked to give you counsel.”
A forest… not a garden… she thought with a frown. She glanced at the sycamore before staring at the apple handed to her for a couple of seconds. She looked back at the sycamore, before looking at the brook then back at the sycamore, too mystified to move from her spot.
“Well, move along, child! You don’t have roots like I do! Now’s not the time to grow roots and settle.”
She scratched her head with one hand, took a bite from the apple with the other as she walked toward the brook to fill her container with water.
The sycamore talked as she went about her task.
“So you’ve set out to seek the Lover of souls, heh? A treasure worth seeking, I say! Nay! The only treasure worth seeking… Yes. Definitely! The only one!”
She gave the tree an odd look, bemused by the joy that seemed to be overflowing from its trunk’s innermost ring. She closed her container and sat on the ground in front of the tree. How could this tree know why I am here? In fact, how could a tree know anything? Before she could voice out her thoughts, the tree began talking again.
“Sometimes we find ourselves too weak, too powerless to find Him. We struggle with our weaknesses. We make too many excuses for ourselves. We should live by what the Good Book says!”
The tree was speaking animatedly, its branches swinging with every point, emphasis and thought, but it stopped moving completely as it solemnly recited,
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose. What have our words been feeding our souls? Words spoken out are words we declare to others. Words thought out are words we declare to ourselves. What have our thoughts been saying, child? Does the Good Book not say, ’For as he thinks in his heart, so is he’? If we are defined by what we think in our hearts…” Two of its longest branches flew up in the air in animated wonderment. “…what are we then?!”
Well, you are a tree… the fact that you’re talking to me is a complete surprise. What are you indeed? It doesn’t really matter. I’m learning… What do my thoughts say about me indeed? She was about to open her mouth to voice out a response or two, but one huge sigh from the sycamore told her that it wasn’t done talking, so she simply took another bite from her apple and drank from her water container.
The tree still had more to say.
Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
Proverbs 23:7a (NKJV)
Two things must be pondered about here: the value of counsel from those who are wiser and more rooted than us and the power of our thoughts to either make or destroy us.
The wilderness may be wide and stark and barren, but it doesn’t mean that we have to go through it alone. There are those who have gone before us, those who stand as signposts even as we make our journey. Let’s take some time to stop and listen to the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that they are able to share.
On the next point, we have words. The words we think and the words we say are powerful. Take a time to examine your own thought life. Have they been building you up or tearing you down? If you find that your thoughts haven’t been helping you in your journey towards Him, perhaps it’s time to seek out encouragement, counsel and a reason to rejoice from those who love us enough to pour into our lives.
*Note: The Sycamore Tree was actually inspired by a conversation I had with my uncle. It was on a prayer night watch and for reasons I won’t go into, we were asked to step out of the prayer room. (We didn’t do anything bad or whatever.) My uncle, an elder in our mother church, took the opportunity to share what he’s been learning to me. He did so with such joy and exuberance. Thus, the day after, The Sycamore Tree became part of this wilderness journey.