“Who made the trees? Did you make all the trees?”
He smiled gently, having answered the young girl’s question many times already. “No, child. Remember, I merely planted the seeds I was given. God has done the rest.”
The little girl nodded. “God did the rest. God made the trees.”
The man squeezed his granddaughter’s hand gently, “And each one of them has a name. Just like me and you.”
She turned her wide eyes upward, smiling broadly, “All of them?”
The two walked together, hand in hand, through the vast grove of trees as the grandfather discussed the name of each.
The tallest was named Upright for her honorable nature and the way she unfailingly pointed to the heavens.
One tree looked burdened, beaten down with withered branches and aged wood. Yet, he still stood, enduring all of life’s battles. For this, he was called Resilient.
Another tree had incredible, overarching branches, thick with leaves and moss. Any who sought Safe Haven, need only rest under her protective arms.
Then there was Longevity; a seemingly ageless tree with deep roots and a strong foundation.
The largest was called Life Giving, for within his mighty roots and throughout his vast wood, flowed a multitude of pure, plentiful, oxygen.
One tree was filled with an abundance of oranges, their lively color standing out against the stark green of leaves. Her name was Bears Fruit.
There were also smaller trees, still growing and changing, in the early years of their life. The Ever Growing Glade, the grandfather called them.
And these smaller trees leaned on a bigger tree: Support. She helped the smaller ones stay in line as they grew. Her long branches extended across a section of the grove, as if providing some sort of motherly embrace.
On the edge of the grove were lonely trees, more susceptible to drought or the terrors of a storm. This was home to trees called Grounded and Firmly Planted, whose roots were so thick and widespread no amount of wind could uproot them, or sun could parch them.
Nearby, were Stability and Sturdy, whose foundations had been disrupted by an earthquake long ago. The trees sat precariously on the edge of a steep drop off; but instead of giving way, their roots had grown down along the side wall of the drop off and into the ground below, safely securing their trunks.
After a while, they reached the end of the grove. Here, the grandfather stopped. He bent down until he was eye level with the girl, took her gently by the shoulders, and held her gaze. “You see, child, each one of these trees represent our lives in this world as children of God.” He pointed to her chest, “You and I? We are the seeds God has planted into this world.”
She stared at his face, listening intently.
“You are to be Upright: honest, honorable, and always Pointing to Christ. This life will bring you trials and tribulation; you must be Resilient against its temptations; you must Endure its painful arrows. You are called to be a Safe Haven, a wall of Protection and love for the poor, the needy, and the lost. Your life must exhibit Longevity; a life Firmly Planted, Deeply Rooted, and Grounded in Truth.”
The girl nodded; her brow furrowed in innocent concern.
“Oh, child,” He continued softly, “Your words and your actions must be Life Giving; every breath must magnify your Maker so that you are one who Bears Fruit; that through Christ working in you, others may receive His pure, plentiful, grace. Like the young trees, you must be Ever Growing in your knowledge of Christ, your love for Him, and your drive to be more like Him every day. You are to Support those around you…but not just those around you; your support must Extend to the ends of the Earth, for He has called you higher and He is worthy of that calling. You are to have Stability when the snares of evil try to destroy your foundation, your faith. You are to be Sturdy in the midst of bold-face mockery and deceit; when you are told your faith is a lie.”
Tears had begun to well up in the little girl’s eyes. One nervous hand rested across her lips, as if ready to stifle a sob.
“Oh, but, child,” The grandfather whispered. “You are not alone. Because who made the trees?”
The girl sniffled, blinking away the tears. Her hand dropped, “God made the trees.”
“God made the trees.” He repeated, “And He has created those trees with everything necessary to stand firmly in this life. He strengthens them to withstand that which would have them weakened.” He kissed her forehead, “And He has created you in the same way. In your weakness, He is Strong.”
The grandfather stood. The girl’s eyes followed him all the way up. She raised her hands and he lifted her into his arms. Together, they stared back at the trees, swaying softly in the afternoon breeze.
“I pray these trees over you every day.” The grandfather said. “In your waking. In your sleeping. In your coming. In your going. In your present and in your future.”
“When I’m playing?” She asked quietly.
He chuckled, “Yes, even when you’re playing.” With her in his arms, he turned from the grove and began walking down the hill.
The girl looked back, as if in deep thought. Then turned to look back at her grandfather. “Who made the playground?” She asked.
His laughter echoed throughout the beautiful grove of trees behind them.