“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”Ecclesiastes 3:1
I love trees. Some of the most enjoyable moments of my boyhood revolve around trees, whether climbing, swinging, camping beneath, decorating or being around them. True, I was once knocked unconscious as a result of a fall from a small pin oak, but that was no fault of the tree. As a woodworker and builder of furniture, I even love what they can become. Wood speaks to me in some primitive way that connects me with my own roots. I love to feel its varying textures in my hands; see the unpredictable beauty of its different grains; smell its dusty fragrances as I cut and shape and sand. Okay, so I’m not too fond of the sanding part, but I digress.
One of my favorite trees ever is the cherry tree that stands right outside our front window. When my wife, Carmen, and I planted it during our first year of marriage, it was just a twig and now, ten years later, it stands taller than our house, it’s branches wrapping around the front porch as though embracing it. We especially love that tree in the spring when, after standing stark and bare through a cold, dreary winter, it quite suddenly bursts to life with beautiful large blossoms as white as freshly popped popcorn. Some years the blossoms hold on for nearly two weeks before falling like gentle snowflakes to the green grass below.
Other years we are not so lucky. This year we had only a couple of days to enjoy the tree in all its springtime glory when a bitter storm rolled through and blew most of the blossoms off prematurely. I suppose that’s how it is with life. Everything has a season and change is inevitable. Some seasons, like the coming of spring, are quite predictable while others, like the storms, come suddenly and unexpectedly.
Such was the case with the storm that came our way ten years ago this week. We were just shy of our second wedding anniversary, still enjoying the early bloom of marriage when Carmen was involved in a very serious and life threatening injury that left her with a severe spinal cord injury. In an instant our lives were forever changed. We went from “Marriage 101” straight to the advanced course with little warning or preparation.
We are not alone. Everyone experiences unexpected storms in this life. Jesus, himself, warned.
“In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world”.
He also talked of the need to prepare for the inevitable storms of life.
“The wise man builds his house on the solid rock…”
Carmen and I long ago made the decision to build our lives and home upon the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. This does not mean that the storms are less fierce, the winds less powerful or the waters less raging. It does mean that we are anchored on something stronger than ourselves; something that will never move, never shift; never give way even in the midst of the strongest tempest. Our lives and our marriage are built upon the One who controls the storm and though He may not always choose to calm it or even deliver us from it, he will always, always support and strengthen us through it.