This is Vitality
We hiked up a gentle grade through a canopy of woods and out into open grassland. We found a shaded spot under a big oak tree on which to spread our picnic blanket and have lunch. We could see both the ocean and the hills behind us. And we chatted about our kids, our granddaughter, life, our parents. It was one of those wonderfully free-floating conversations that went everywhere and nowhere. Then we packed up to head home for chores and a quiet evening.
On the way down the path, I noticed how black the trees were. I mean really, really black. And these are oak trees. Martha noticed it too and then we realized...the Tea Fire. The Tea Fire four years ago ravaged Parma Park (along with 200 homes!) when it roared through in superheated 70 mph winds. We noticed some of the trees were dead and denuded of leaves and branches. The fire did indeed kill them. But the one above, like a number of others was totally scorched yet full of bright green leaves. It is scarred and marked by great suffering, yet productive and life-bearing. It was not only surviving but thriving. It endured.
That's what I want to look like. That's what healthy, mature, vital pastors look like. They have been scorched and scarred over the years. They show the signs of stress, age, long meetings and short nights. They have weathered blistering critics and dry seasons. Yet, like Psalm 1 says "their leaf does not wither." Keep growing tree! You are inspiring!