Stuck in a Tree

by | May 24, 2004 | Experiencing God, Prayer, Provision

It was a promising beach day, perhaps the first of the season. The sun was shining, there was barely a hint of a breeze, and the lake was quiet. We could hardly wait to finish breakfast so that we could head for the water. What a beautiful way to spend Father’s Day!

We weren’t too surprised to see others down at the beach. After all, why waste such a beautiful day doing chores around the house? What did surprise us was that the sky was full of kites. Not ordinary kites, but huge ones that were harnessed to surf boards!

It was the first time we had even heard of kite surfing, and we were fascinated, but what amazed us the most was that there was no wind! What was keeping those kites up?

“There must be wind higher up,” observed my youngest son. “Why don’t I go get my new kite and try it?”

My eyes went immediately to the row of oaks lining the narrow beach and warning bells began to sound. However, kite flying is in the same category as fire starting in our family (see “The Fire Starter”!), so I had little fear of us ever being able to keep a kite in the air long enough for one to reach the height of those ancient giants, and all I said was, “You’ll have to be careful of the trees!”

The kite was quickly unwrapped and assembled according to instructions, and my son soon began trying to make it airborne. I wasn’t surprised when he wasn’t successful. Kite flying was obviously beyond the ability of this family. It was a losing battle from the beginning!

Just as he was beginning to become discouraged, my wife ventured down from our camp. There is little that she likes less than sitting on a beach, but the sight of her youngest son struggling manfully to fly that kite drew her down to the sand quicker than I could imagine. And she tried her best to help. She held the kite up on a ridge, projecting it up into the air at just the right moment, at just the right angle, but her efforts weren’t successful either, and she and my son mourned together each time it toppled back to the ground.

After more tries than I could count, they finally abandoned the project to watch the kite surfers. I thought they had become discouraged, and I didn’t blame them, but I was wrong.

“There’s got to be wind up there,” they remarked. “Maybe if we let out a bit more of the string before trying to release it . . .”

And sure enough, it worked. With just a bit more string, our beautiful kite was, for the first time in history, flying majestically, and the more string my son let out, the more it soared upward without even the tiniest threat of crashing!

Suddenly I realized that the kite string was now long enough to come dangerously close to the trees! “Be care…!”

But the words had hardly left my mouth when a gust of wind high up caught the kite and drove it into an ancient oak tree. OH NO!!! The string instantly became tangled up around several of its branches, and the more my son tried to pull it free, the more tangled it became.

“Let me try it!” I said. But I wasn’t convinced I could do anything, and sure enough, no matter how hard I pulled on the string, the kite refused to move. And since there was simply no way of climbing that particular tree, for the kite was at least fifty feet from the ground, it seemed it was gone forever.

My wife refused to give up, however. One look at our son’s disappointed face, and she started to pray. She then took the kite string and began to pull, winding it slowly but surely back onto the handle.

The string was far from robust. I knew it would be impossible for it to stand much more of the strain being put on it by that giant of a tree and that dwarf of a handle. I could almost hear it groan in agony, and I cried, “Don’t! You’ll break it!”

My wife shrugged. “And then? If this doesn’t work, the kite’s gone anyway!” And she continued her efforts, undeterred by my prophecy of doom.

To my surprise, the string didn’t break. In fact, after a few moments of gentle pulling, we began to see movement in the tree, and a few seconds after that, the kite tumbled onto a lower branch. It was still stuck, but at least there was some progress! My wife kept praying and winding that string onto the handle, and in another few minutes, the kite broke completely free from the grasp of the giant and soared up into the sky once again.

“You did it!” Shouted my son.

But my wife shook her head. “I didn’t do anything,” she said quietly. “God did it!”

She sure was right. Her prayers had been answered. There was no way that little string, wrapped around so many branches, could have ever withstood such a pressure. Only God could have answered the desperate prayer of a mother for her disappointed son.

Does prayer work?

Ask my wife and my son. And the same God who cared about that kite in the tree cares for you as well! “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV)

Rob Chaffart


Stuck in a Tree