“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps 51:16-17 NIV)
Isn’t it interesting that as you climb a tall mountain, the higher you go, the shorter the trees become? The mighty tall trees are left behind in the valley, while the curled up, dwarf ones reign on the top. Or if the mountain is high enough, there aren’t any trees at all on the top! The closer to Heaven we climb, the less pretentious the world seems to become. There is no more, “I am better than you” attitude. Only those who are broken in spirit are welcome here!
We experienced this at Whiteface Mountain, located in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. As we neared the top, we reached a point where the climate is so harsh, so cold and so windy, that there were no trees to be seen. Welcome to the alpine zone (Not be confused with the Twilight zone!). The plants at this altitude were all small, low-growing shrubs and non-flowering herbs.
There is a tree, however, than can survive such a high altitude. In fact it is the most abundant plant (Yes plant, not tree) on Whiteface: the tiny, itsy-bitsy willow surnamed “Bearberry Willow”. It is truly a willow, just like the majestic drooping willow tree in my back yard, and it, too, grows a shimmering fuzzy fruit similar to that of the pussy willow. This one isn’t even called a tree, however. It is small enough that it is termed “a plant”. This plant can also be found in the arctic tundra. No room for the high snobs of the willow society up there!
A little bit below this alpine zone region, we noticed small Balsam Firs. Imagine our surprise to learn that they were actually 50 to 100 years old. At this age in the valley, such trees would normally rise up to 60 feet! Quite unlike these dwarfs! The winds blowing through this pass have indeed stunted their growth.
That wind is also the reason why there are hardly any branches on one side of each tree. These, too, were stunted by the wind, and some were even killed as they were growing. On the other side of these same trees however, where branches are protected by the tree’s trunk, they are able to grow normally.
If ever we would like to know which direction the wind comes from, all we need to do is watch these trees. Not a bad trick!
Just like the tree trunk protects the branches, there is only One can who can protect us from the harsh elements of this world. He is the same One who can help guide us in true humility!
“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Ps 25:9 NIV)
Hey, I can’t even feel the cold harsh wind behind those tree trunks! And the view from the top is so heavenly!
(To access the entire “Awake!” devotional series, please click here.)