Hold Still (What the Trees Can Teach Us About the Spirit)
Am I surrendered to the Spirit? Do I move in rhythm with His stirrings? Or, am I like a gnarled tree, roots planted, branches taunt in resistance?
Lilias Trotter shares a beautiful illustration of what the trees taught her one day. Do you believe that God speaks through all living things? Lilias did. She recalls a time when she observed a mighty wind that rushed through the valley. She describes it like this:
“The trees took it in such a different way. They are nearly all juniper and eucalyptus, and their different natures so came out under it. The junipers, tough and stubborn, only moving when by sheer force they had to move, and that in an ungracious combative manner; springing back instantly to their former position.
The eucalyptus, on the other hand, had every leaf so posed that not a breath passed unheeded--while a little gust would ripple and toss their heads about, and a stronger one would sway their very centers. When the breath died down, instead of a willful rebound like the junipers, they would just relax and hold still--still enough to catch again the first whisper of the wind.”
After I read this, my first inclination was to pray that I might hold still, still enough to heed the Spirit’s movings in my life. But the truth is, I’m rarely still; still enough for Him to do His bidding.
I like to be in control.
Too often I am the tree with my heels stamped firmly into the ground. I make sure nothing slips past me. I put my thumb on everything, thinking I can hold it all in place. I try to be everywhere at all times.
I learned last summer how meager my attempts at control truly are. We had moved to a new house. One of the things the girls were most excited for was that we would be in a cul-de-sac. Previously, when we lived on the Second Acre, we were on a busy road so the girls could only ride their bikes on the two acres. Grass riding is not nearly as fun as road riding.
And so it took all of five minutes for their bikes to be unloaded at our new house and they were out riding on the road. They were in bike heaven. But I quickly learned that just because you live on a cul-de-sac does not mean that cars necessarily drive slow, or look at what they are doing. I noticed several cars speeding where common sense said to slow down, children play here.
Two weeks after we moved in, I watched a white car speed down my road and knew the girls were out on their bikes. I ran outside to warn the pixies that a car was driving fast. Too late. The car was already making a u-turn headed back up to where they were riding.
I watched in slow motion as my oldest was pedaling out from behind a parked car into the street. I screamed to Lyric but knew I could never get to her in time. The car broadsided her and knocked her off her bike.
It took one second but felt like a million minutes.
I was not in control.
I was there, but I could not stop it from happening. I felt her slip from my grasp.
Thankfully, she was thrown from her bike away from the car. She was totally fine. I was not.
What I later came to realize, after much contemplation in this mama's heart, is that there was nothing I could do in that circumstance. I was on it. I was aware of what was going on. But I was still not the one ultimately in control.
There is peace when we finally come to understand this. When we turn from the juniper trees that we are and morph into the eucalyptus, relaxed, holding still.
Lilias goes on to describe the tree revelation in greater detail:
“It was such a picture of the ‘minding of the Spirit’ which is ‘life and peace,’ while the junipers stood in control as those who ‘minding the things of the flesh’ are ‘not subject unto the law of God’. One does want to be sensitive to His every breath.”
It’s not always a control issue. Sometimes it is just the stubbornness of our flesh. We dig our heels in, planted firmly, unyielding to His conviction. We quench the Spirit, knowing that His whispers are life and peace. We do what we want, knowing the forbidden fruit is a bitter pill to swallow.
His whispers are easy to miss if we are not holding still.
And so I want to be conscience of His weight upon me. How easy it is to brush it off, to strip our souls bare of His presence. A quick offense, a bitter thought, an unleashed tongue, and I am no longer moving in rhythm with the Spirit.
Outside, there are trees swaying in the breeze. I can’t look at them without bringing to mind what they can teach me about the Spirit. The branches are blowing with ease and I sense that the roots are holding still, secure in the words of Him Whose breath is life.
I want to hold still enough to yield. To listen to His words of life and be willing to change direction when He asks. To mind the Spirit, surrendering control. To bend with ease as I walk in the Spirit.