Mature Trees

I remember the trees from 30 years ago. They were always beautiful in the spring. White blooms. Unpleasant scent. Bradford pear. That’s what they’re called. Beautiful but smelly.

I’ve begun driving by those trees again. I park near them at work. But 30 years have gone by. The trees still stand. Taller. Fuller. They produce much more shade. They have matured. They’ve reached their full potential.

I think of all the years these trees have stood lining the street. They’ve seen people come and go. They’ve weathered many a storm. Their branches have been blown by heavy gusts of wind. Their flowers have bloomed every spring and their leaves have fallen every autumn. During the summer, the leaves of those trees have provided shade for anyone walking or parking nearby. In the winter, the bare branches have cast eerie shadows in early nightfall.

They have survived the many unknowns of the past three decades. And still they stand tall and proud. Still they thrive. They’re doing their job. Stand tall. Throw shade. Beautiful blooms. Year after year. Nothing changes for them. Yet everything changes. And still they stand.

Oh. They aren’t invincible. They can be beaten. They can succumb to an invasion of an incurable disease. They can be struck by lightening without notice. They can come down. You see. Bradford Pear trees are perfectly symmetrical and grow in a beautiful shape, yet they are structurally weak. Apparently, these trees are a threat. But who knew?

Yeah. Mature trees are vulnerable. There could be an internal weakness that is unseen by the human eye. A slight crack down the long trunk. Perhaps they are dying of thirst and no one knows. An act of God can take them down without warning. There could be unknown root damage discovered when hope is long gone. Or possibly the damage is due to manmade machines. One never knows what lies beneath the surface of outward beauty.


The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord , they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. Psalm 92:12-14


The beauty seen on the outside can cover a multitude of sins. Many weaknesses. Many faults. Many fears and uncertainties. Many secrets. But once the outer shell is cracked wide open, the unknown comes spilling out. The truth comes out. It isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always redeemable. Or is it?

Maturity takes hard work and years of determination. Perseverance. Discipline. Cutting off branches that don’t produce fruit. Pruning fruitful branches for even more fruit.

Suckers can drain the life from the tree. They zap water and nutrients from the main tree. They’re unhealthy for the tree. And they’re just plain ugly.

Christian faith is similar to trees. True maturity takes hard work. Cutting out the branches of our lives that aren’t fruitful. Pruning the fruitful talents and skills given by God. And suckers can drain the life out of people. Poor habits. Abusive relationships. Deadly addictions. They’re unhealthy and they’re plain ugly. Age isn’t necessarily a sign of maturity. Do the hard work and put in the time to study and show yourself approved.

For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Hebrews 5:13-14

We Can Change

Change is good.  That’s what they say.  Whoever they are.

We change our diets.  If we have to.  We change jobs.  Some people change spouses.  We can even change our gender.  On the outside, at least.

We change to try to please others.  To get in their good graces.  To get on their good side.

We change the color of our hair.  We change our weight.  We change our zip code.  We change.

I remember a couple of changes I made.  Not big changes.  Petty ones, really.  I remember when grocery stores switched from paper bags to plastic.  I resisted.  I didn’t want plastic bags.  The funny thing is.  I got used to them.  Now I’m told that plastic is environmentally unfriendly.  Stores are returning to paper.  I find myself resisting again.  I’ve changed.

When paper towels became available in full and half sizes, I resisted.  I wanted the full size.  Now I only buy the ones with an option.   Full or half size.  I sometimes feel that I’m being wasteful if I use a full paper towel when I only need a half size.   I’ve changed.

I used to drink pop.  Now I don’t.  I used to eat sugar.  Now I don’t.  I used to take naps.  Now I don’t.  I’ve changed.

So we can change.  We just don’t want to.  It isn’t easy.  It isn’t fun.  It upsets our routines.  We’re set in our ways.  But we can change.  We just have to want to.  We have to work on changing.

What changes do we make just to make our life easier?  What bad habits do we stop doing?  What bad words do we stop saying?  What bad attitudes do we correct?  What gossip do we stop spreading?

What changes do we willingly make?  What is the good we intentionally start doing?

There are some changes that I resist.  No matter what.  I just don’t want to change.  It just seems too hard to change a bad attitude.  That would take work.  And will power.  It’s hard to love the unlovable.  Those who treat us bad or bully us or reject us.  But we can love them.  Love is a choice.


And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  Ezekiel 36:26


If I listed all the changes I’ve made in my life, would I even be able to list one character flaw that I’ve worked to change?  Do I expect God to forgive me and then me not be willing to change?

Isn’t maturity a sign of change?  Isn’t change a sign of maturity?

Look at Paul.  I mean Saul.  Saul changed.  God called out to him.  And Saul changed his life.  He changed his behavior.  He changed his motives.  He went from hunting Christians to being a leader of Christians.  He changed his name.  Paul changed.

The soul that’s in tune with God.  That truly loves God will change.  Will want to change the old for the new.  Old attitudes for new.  Old beliefs for new.  Old ways for new.  Perhaps old friends for new.  It’s possible.  It can happen.  Our hearts can change.  Our hearts must change.