The Little Tree That Could

treeMy daughter brought home one of those scrawny tree saplings from elementary school. We planted it, as we did the others that came home in previous years. None of the others had survived, so we didn’t worry too much about where we planted it.

But it began to grow.

And grow.

And grow.

We now sit in its shade on warm evenings. Our dog loves the soft bed of its needles.

I often think of it as the “little tree that could,” referring to that famous fictional train that makes it up and over the mountain to save the day and deliver toys to the children. But that’s not really the case.

The tree didn’t grow just because it decided to grow. A lot more went into it: provisions and timing of sunlight, soil, water, pruning, and so on. The growth process wasn’t without trial. It had to overcome some rough winters and dry, hot summers, not to mention bugs and other pests.

We sometimes try to convince ourselves (and teach others) that if we belief enough, what we want to happen will actually happen…that all we need is enough confidence and hard work. But that’s just not true. A lot more goes into our growth than that. Of course, we have to be willing to try our hardest and do our best. But believing in ourselves isn’t going to deliver all the results we want. Life isn’t a mathematical equation. Even if it was, we wouldn’t be able to plug in all the numbers we need, because we aren’t actually aware of all the factors involved.

A lot goes on behind the scenes–even within us–that we don’t know or understand.

We can trust that God does know. He does care (yes, even when life is tough and we wonder if we’re all alone). He does provide (even if it’s not exactly what we want). He does prune us (because He knows the long term benefits are more important than the short term pain, awkwardness, or inconvenience).

It’s not that I don’t believe in myself. I believe God more.

It’s not that I’m not willing to work hard. I simply want to work purposefully as I pursue God’s instructions.

It’s not that I don’t think I can. It’s that I know God can.

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