Many, many years ago, some dear friends in Warwick, New York gave me a baby apple tree, which I was thrilled to plant just to the side of my house. For a long time, it really grew and thrived…and then one night, it was hit by lightning and split nearly in half.
It didn’t fall down, though. It stood there, looking surprised and aggrieved, but upright.
One afternoon, as Jeff and I sat on the porch, there was a large group of kids playing on our lawn. Most of them were my daughter’s age… maybe a year or two older. The youngest was definitely my son, Alex, who is five years younger than his sister.
As they chased each other around the lawn, Alex tripped over one of the roots of the apple tree, and fell down. Of course, he screamed in pain and frustration… what four-year-old wouldn’t?
“Look at the big crybaby!” the older kids yelled. “What’s the matter, Alex? Can’t take a little fall?”
Jeff got up from the porch, and walked to the tree like John Wayne approaching an Apache chief.
“You miserable tree!” he yelled. “Did you just hurt my little boy?”
And with that, he kicked the poor tree exactly in the right place, dislodging its sad, dead roots and knocking it over.
For a second, time stopped.
Then, one of the kids yelled out, “Did you see that? Mr. Pikarsky just kicked down a tree!”
They stared at him in astonishment as he dragged the poor little tree out to the curb, muttering audibly, “Nobody hurts my little boy!”
Those kids never made fun of Alex again.
I wish that had been the only tree that ever crossed his path, but sadly, he’s faced a forest of them, and Daddy hasn’t always been there to kick them down.
But on that long-ago afternoon, God let Jeffrey convince his kids that no adversary is unbeatable… especially one that is threatening someone you love. You find the strength to do what seems impossible.
Thankfully, it’s rare that one sees more than one of these opponents at a time. They’re there, of course, but thankfully, they remain hidden in the future until we’re ready to tackle them.
I don’t want to see the forest. I find each tree formidable enough.