Thursday, September 19, 2013

Parable of the Pin Oak and the Pines

At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me…Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me. (II Timothy 4:16, 17) 

When you live in a rural setting you cannot escape existing in a symbiotic relationship with God’s natural creation. Sometimes, in this state of being, you can visualize through an artist’s eye. Rerouted brainwaves shimmer across the invisible borderline between what is real and what is only perceived in the brief transition from the tangible to the imagined. 

In this condition of altered frame of mind I considered the analogy of the pin oak and the pines. 

Although she stands tall she is still dwarfed by the leggy pines surrounding her, clearly out of place in her spot, regardless she endures with stoic grace adeptly concealing the discomfort of her circumstances. If she feels odd she refuses to show it. Clinging tenaciously to her dry coppery leaves until new buds push them and warm spring winds sweep them away, the pin oak is so unlike the other trees around her she is an easy target for criticism and rebuke for no other reason than she doesn’t look like or do as the majority does. 

A lone pin oak in a stand of pines knows well what it’s like to be, at the same time, both invisible and yet excruciatingly visible. One could lecture the pines on the futility of mistaking the will of the majority as the will of God if it were possible that they could be open to input. But pines, for all their majestic height, are somewhat shallow rooted and can only see from their lofty vantage point where everything is just a sea of green. Anything other than the sharp verdant needles they share and are familiar with is considered irrelevant and inconsequential, and possibly heretical.

Nevertheless, the pin oak continues in her resolve and in her own way and standing her ground she doesn’t seem to mind being the short deciduous tramp amongst the evergreens, the odd one out, the one who does things differently in spite of disdainful looks and rushing whispers above her. Perhaps she has learned what the pines can never grasp in their staid comfort and blind acceptance of their established standards. A pity actually–the pines are completely unaware they are handicapped by their own self-righteous myopathy. How can they see from their remote heights that profundity was never born in status quo, never realized without risk of rejection and resistance? In their determination to disregard anything that challenges tradition and sameness as the paradigm, the pines seal themselves off from original thought, citing anomaly as being anathema to convention. 

All things considered, I’d rather be a pin oak completely out of sync with the crowd, ignored and/or dismissed, than a pine stagnant in the conviction of its own superiority. 

Refuse to fall down.
If you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down, 
     lift your heart toward heaven, and 
      like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven---
only you. 
It is in the middle of misery that so much becomes clear. 
The one who says nothing good came of this,
is not yet listening.

C.P. Estes

We can easily grow wretched over the failure of men, even the best of them. There is so much fickleness and so many Christians fail us. We had better resolve early to expect little of men, much of God. Major on His faithfulness! We have His promise and we may be sure of His presence, for the one assures the other. ~ Vance Havner

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