I remember walking on the trail near my house this past year. My border collie and my son’s pit bull/boxer mix caught up with me as I carefully walked over the stepping-stones crossing the creek. It had been a long winter and I was searching for any evidence of spring I could sight as we ventured through the poplars.
While the dogs romped back and forth through the woods I scanned the forest floor for wild violets, jack-in-the-pulpits, and trilliums, but found none. So, together the three of us trudged along the trail, climbing ridges and descending into small ravines. The abundant snows that winter and the recent rains had caused all the springs to bubble forth. As they joined forces they formed several streams that cascaded down the mountainside and created several miniature waterfalls along our path.
Finally, after we had come to the end of the trail, I approached the last spring and searched the landscape for any sign of spring, but regretfully found no sign of a flower, not a one. As I was about to return along the path we had come, I noticed something that my gaze hadn’t seen before. It was like one of those pictures that you have to refocus your eyes slightly to see. I hadn’t perceived it before, but all the sudden there it was glaring at me, something far more significant to me than merely a sign of spring. For there before my eyes was seen not merely a bit of creation, but a sign of the recreation that God does in all of us. I smiled as I took in this lesson God had sent to me in the form of a ‘Poplar Parable.’
Before me I could see one of the poplars that had toppled in a windstorm a couple years ago. There it lay on the ground, like so many other trees that had gotten knocked down from the remnants of a hurricane. However, there was something drastically different about this tree. Its roots, still attached, were close to the bubbling spring that sent water gushing past it. Not all of those roots had been jerked out of the ground That life-giving liquid gushing past the poplar’s roots had kept the tree alive! And on the side of the tree where the branches could still stretch upward, I noticed signs of life as the twigs displayed many buds.
Oftentimes, I search for the parables God has hidden throughout nature. Here was an allegory that I believe we all can identify with in our lives. Many are the times in our lives that we are toppled over like a magnificent poplar, when the winds of strife assail us.
It may be that we lost our job, or that we didn’t get the job we had hoped for, or possibly we’re heartbroken because we’ve lost a loved one or perhaps a love relationship dissolved. Many are the times that our lives have toppled over. And yet God sends us His bubbling stream. And as we are watered by the Holy Spirit, we are revived, and with what life force we have left within us we send forth our branches pointing towards the Son of righteousness.
Yes, sometimes in life we may become devastated. We may be dealt a wicked blow. We may be knocked down to our knees, or even flat on our back. Yes, truly, we may be down, but praise God, we are not done!
Ron Reese [email protected]
Ron Reese, who lives in North Carolina, is sometimes tossed about by the winds of strife that rock his life. Sometimes he’s like the old poplar, he’s down, but he’s not done.