When I want to be the elm…

I was reminded the other day about an elm tree that grew in my parents’ yard during my childhood. Though it wasn’t good for climbing, it was nonetheless impressive. This tree had two defining characteristics: 1) It grew. Elms typically are fast-growing trees, attaining stature in a relatively short period of time. 2) Because of its quick growth, it often would litter our yard with twigs and branches after a storm. (Needless to say, this frequently added to my chores in keeping the yard looking presentable.)

A number of years ago, my parents had to cut down this elm tree. It had been a beautiful tree, but simply wasn’t sustainable in its growth. Contrast this with the neighboring tree, an oak. Oak trees are known for their long life and stately magnificence, but also tend to be slow-growing. Over time, the oak tree slowly plodded its way into maturity, and stands there to this day.

As I thought about these trees, I was struck with how frequently I want to be the elm. I often desire for challenging times to be over, to be at a point of spiritual maturity, to have attained my next goal. My attitude can easily be oriented towards quick growth. But, where would that leave me? Might I demonstrate some growth, but in the end, lack the strength that allows me to endure? Perhaps could the challenges that I so desire to be rid of be the things that create hardiness, endurance, and spiritual maturity?

What about you? What things do you desire to be rid of quickly? How might a focus on quick growth short-circuit the life that you truly seek?

God, let me emulate the oak when I’m tempted to be the elm.

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