Recently, I was in Ireland to visit my family. My husband and I planned to do some sightseeing during the trip. As we strolled down a country lane in a rural area of Ireland, we came across a beautiful, large old tree. I am sure the tree had stood there for a very long time. Some people had carved their initials into the tree as a memory of their visit. I wonder where those people are now. As I studied the tree closely, I noticed something different. Embedded within the trunk was a section of barbed wire. I think maybe the wire had been a fence around the tree years ago when the tree was little. Over the years, as the tree grew, the trunk expanded beyond the fence. The tree could not escape the barbed wire so it just grew up around it. We finished our walk and headed off.
My thoughts kept drifting back to that tree for several days. I had taken a photo of the tree and I pulled it out to look at it again and again. I could not figure why this tree was fascinating me so much. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me that there was something about this tree that He was trying to reveal to me. For a long time, I could not figure it out.
I slowly realized that the tree was a symbol of each of us as human beings. We are born and are rooted into our families. As we grow, people will come into our lives and write their names onto our heart, which is like the tree’s trunk. Some will write encouraging words that we always cherish. Others just carve deep scars that are painful reminders of our encounters with them. Sometimes, we need to be pruned of dead or rotten parts so that we can continue to grow tall and strong. Even though the pruning can be painful, it is done to improve our future growth and make us as strong as possible. When we are old, our bodies will be like the old trunk of the tree, knotted and scarred from many years of living.
But what about the barbed wire on the tree trunk? I realized that the barbed wire represented the sin in our lives. When we are very young we learn that sin is all around us. It is everywhere in our world. When the tree was young, the wire formed a fence around the tree. At first the fence surrounded the tree as a boundary. Like that fence, our families protect us from sin when we are young. They take us to church for us to learn about Christ and His love for us. They teach us that Jesus died for our sin. They hope we will learn right from wrong and how to avoid sin in our lives. As we grow, sin creeps closer and closer to us until it is finally touching our trunk. None of us are perfect and we fall into sin but just a little at first. We tell my first little white lie at school and the barbed wire tightens slightly around our trunk. Soon we find ourselves cheating on our taxes because everyone does it and who is it hurting anyway. The barbed wire tightens more and cuts into the flesh of our trunks. We try drugs and alcohol and are hooked as the wire keeps tightening and embedding itself deeper and deeper into our lives. We can no longer separate the trunk of our lives from the barbed wire of sin that has entangled us.
One day we wake up and realize that our sins have so entangled our lives that we cannot fix it by ourselves. We need Jesus. Jesus as the master gardener is what is needed to help us.. We must give our lives to Jesus and allow Him to prune and chop until we can regain our lives from the grasp of sin. Only in Christ will we live a full life that leads us to an eternity together with God in heaven. Some of our sins have become so entrenched in our trunks that we will never get rid of them fully. God will remove some parts of the barbed wire as He prunes. Sometime God will leave part of the wire stuck in our trunk to keep us turning to Him. He will help us overcome the pain and aches caused by the parts of the barbed wire that remain stuck deep within our trunks. Some sins will leave deep scars but God will help us overcome those also. Only accepting Christ and confessing our sins can the healing begin. No matter the type of sin, Jesus is able to change you. He is able to trim sin out of our trunks and put us on the road to healing and happiness. Even when some of the barbwire of sin remains, God can still lift you up and give you a peace that passes all human understanding. If your life is overcome with sin, Jesus can help you. He does not promise it will be easy or painless but He does promise you peace and life eternal if you turn your heart over to Him. Turning our sin over to Him might be something we have to do on a daily basis.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”