My Dad is a nature photographer and every once in awhile (OK quite a lot) I will like one of his pictures. This one in particular I liked, and soon asked if I could buy a 30×20 inch glossy print (shown above).
As you can see the photograph is quite stunning and Zen like. The broken tree on the left with arcing branches, the beautiful mountains in the background, the low hills below the mountains and so on. There is just so much detail and so much to investigate. I ended up spending a lot of time doing just that as I hung the framed picture above my computer at work in 2008.
Obviously that is quite awhile ago, but I remember one day I really focused on the tree and thought “Wow, that tree is me.”
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
John 15:2 (NIV)
My love of metaphors came to bear, and I kept looking at the log on the ground and the broken trunk. I had recently gone through a serious illness (2002 – 2007) and remember during that time thinking God must be disciplining me. I had even put the following verse above my door
“The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.”
Psalms 118:18 (NIV)
It turns out – I was wrong.
Fast forward to December 2014. I quit that job in 2009, but still kept the picture and would put it up during summer months. Eventually the frame cracked from me handling it so much and I eventually decided to get rid of it. Little did I know my Dad had decided to buy me a new canvas print of the same picture for Christmas.
Eventually the picture came, and my Dad came over to show me the finished product. It was still inside the formed shipping box and we both waited expectantly to see the beautiful picture in canvas form. Once open we realized it was the wrong picture!
My Dad looked puzzled for a second and then quizzically spoke that he thought for sure he had ordered the right print. And then (later) I realized that it wasn’t a mistake! God had meant for me to get this picture instead.
Look at the difference in the two trees. The first tree is dull, has broken limbs and looks lifeless. The second tree is beautiful and full, with vibrant colors and plenty of shade underneath it; the tree is whole.
My original perception of myself was wrong, and even though at the time it seemed to line up with the scripture I was reading it wasn’t the truth. The truth is my father sees me like the second tree, and I am precious to him.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
Now that reminder hangs in my bedroom.