My friend has a daughter who is always climbing trees. Like way up in the sky, give her mama a heart attack, kind of climbing trees. She climbs up in those branches, and sits to look at the beauty around her while everything on the ground becomes small. Sometimes she climbs alone. Other times she brings along her dad. I’m pretty sure she inherited this love for high places from him…anyway, my friend gets to have a double portion of anxiety as she watches her loves ascend the branches of any tall tree they can find!
Awhile ago, she posted a pic of them together, high in the branches of a pine tree.I couldn’t help but wonder (after having a mild heart attack myself), when was the last time I climbed a tree? When did these beautiful, tall, green, and solid plants become tall, dark, and scary plants? FYI: a tree IS considered a plant; I googled it just to make sure…
I used to be the same way; climbing to the tops of trees and sitting in the branches. I would get to the point where I would feel the wind moving me while I sat. Then, I would move one branch higher (just to see if I could), before slowly backing my way down. I would feel for solid branches with my feet, and then have adrenaline race through my veins because I would slip on my way back to the ground. It was always an adventure.
We had a tree in the front yard of one of the houses I grew up in. It wasn’t a tall tree. It wasn’t a huge tree. But, it had a cluster of branches that was just perfect for a scrawny 9 year old girl to sit in. I was up there all the time. Watching birds. Seeing little critters run around the yard. It was heaven to feel the cool breeze make its way through the branches on hot summer days. It was quiet and peaceful. My 9 year old mind told me it was closer to God too; especially after my brother died. It was my spot. It was my calm. Everything around me looked smaller and seemed more manageable up in that tree.
So, when did I stop climbing trees?
When did you?I know things change as we grow into adults; even more when we become parents. They do. You can’t stop it. You just roll with it as responsibilities increase and gravity pulls your feet to the ground. All of the sudden, we’re plodding through our days watching our kids live life with the abandon we once had (insert The Lion King “Circle of Life” chorus here).
I don’t think our wild and risk-taking attitude disappears. I agree that it changes. Honestly, with that change, I think it gets buried.
We have to work and pay bills. We are in charge of raising kids and making sure they grow. We have spouses, and school, and sports, and church, and groceries, and birthdays, and yard work, and laundry, and cars, and cleaning, and the list that never ends. All of the sudden, life isn’t about climbing trees, or rolling down hills, or riding your bike as fast as you can down the steepest hill you can find. Nope, it’s about making it through to the end of the week. It’s about getting to the end of month. Just. Finishing. The. Year.
A few months ago, I wrote about the women with the issue of blood and the risk she took when she waited just a second longer. She could have been buried in all of the chaos and people following Jesus, but instead that step out of the crowd gave her freedom. Her surrender resurrected her and brought life back to that wild and risk-taking attitude.
Day to day “stuff” is so heavy. That list up there tethers us to the ground. The checked off “to-do’s” bury us to the point where we feel like just taking a breath is an accomplishment. That list we think of as solid ground…in reality, it’s quicksand. Waiting to bury us and keep us from the adventure God has for us. It wants to drown us and hardens our hearts to beauty around us. What we see as solid ground makes the life He has envisioned for us seem scary, not worth the risk, and definitely out of our reach.
I challenge you today to reach up, grab those tree branches, and start climbing.
Climb higher into the love and grace He extends to us and watch every care get smaller and further away from our feet.
Sit in the branches of His safety and embrace the warmth that softens our hearts because we keep getting closer and closer to the Son.
Step off the well traveled road and confront the glorified busyness of life and work that distracts us from our real purpose. Slow down and talk each other, instead of letting your heart get buried or hardened in this business that we have started calling “marriage.”
Stop to listen. Slow down and watch. But, never stop climbing.
We need to show our kids how to climb. It’s ours to teach them how to leave the ground and embrace the life high in the branches of the tallest tree. The place that from the ground seems scary and unstable. But, in reality is safe in the arms of The One who would never let them fall.I am going to choose happy on this seemingly routine Thursday, because even though I am just beginning to climb trees again, I am excited to see the view God has for me and mine.