I discovered this fascinating tree on a recent hike through the woods. Seriously, how cool is it?? It amazes me that it’s still standing! Here’s another shot of it:
A small child could climb inside and be alone for a while, quite comfortably. What could have caused this huge crater in the trunk? You can see in the picture that the hollow actually goes further up into the trunk, above that second hole. Most tree hollows are initially caused by come previous wound. A wound larger than three or four inches takes the tree so long to callous over that it leaves the inner wood open to attack by rotting fungi. The wound may have been caused by lightning, limb loss, or possibly a damaged underground root. Whatever wounded this tree, the hollowing process did not completely take place the following day! It took years.
Some of us are a lot like this tree. Some old wound caused damage to our “heartwood,” and we never fully recovered. That wound festered and grew, leading to something like what you can see in the picture above. Maybe the wound was caused by a close friend or family member, and you could never quite bring yourself to forgive them. Nicky Gumbel, pioneer of Alpha, wrote this: “Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred and the waste of energy.” It’s difficult to put energy into positive growth when we are consumed by what has happened to us.
Did you know that forgiveness is not an option for the Christian? Jesus said,
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ (Matthew 14-15)
Read the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35. After he showed a lack of mercy, “his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed” (verse 34). Jesus ends this parable by saying,
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. ~Matthew 18:35
Yesterday was Good Friday, a day set aside to remember what Jesus did for us. He died on the cross to pay a debt He didn’t owe…our debt, which we couldn’t pay. God is the judge of our hearts, and He knows how wretched we are, yet He gave his Son to take the punishment we fully deserved. When we hold onto anger and resentment, we are saying that the blood Jesus shed for us and for them is not enough. That person needs to pay for what they’ve done, and in our twisted thinking, we believe that our anger and resentment is going to make them suffer! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
If you find yourself ruminating on the pain of your past wounds, talk to God about it. He requires us to forgive, but He’s not going to demand something of us that He’s not willing to help us with. Ask Him to heal your heart, and to help you release that person into His hands. You may have been grasping onto that so tightly for so long that it feels you’ll never be able to open your hand to let go, but nothing is impossible with God! You can trust Him to help you overcome.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ ~ Jeremiah 29:11