Yesterday, we said goodbye to an old walnut tree that has shaded our backyard for the last 20 years. It was the last remnant of an old orchard on the homestead property that makes up our neighborhood. Underneath the tree sat a table where many dinners and good conversations took place over the years. Some of those conversations changed the course of lives.
Before the tree service arrived, I had to unwrap the string of lights that filled the tree branches and would softly illuminate our evening gatherings. I moved the pots away from its base to give the tree service room to work along with the rocks that encircled the tree. The old tree now looked especially vulnerable standing alone awaiting the sawyer. At that moment, I got choked up.
When the arborist arrived with his crew, we talked about the job and he made an interesting comment. He said, “Once the old tree is removed it will give more light to the younger trees to begin to fill out.” I didn’t take his comment to be negative regarding the presence of the old tree. It was just an honest comment backed by experience. The old tree was dying and soon it would become a hazard, no longer a blessing. In its passing, a new generation would be able to fill out and come into their season of fullness and maturity.
While other trees were still young and growing, the old walnut tree hung in there knowing his time to go had not yet come. In the last couple of years, we could see the inevitable happening. The tree was dying. Each year fewer leaves would appear. Some of the branches had died and become brittle. Last year, the tree was not able to produce a single walnut. It was now time to go.
A few hours after the tree was cut down a friend came and collected the wood now cut into short sections. The logs will fuel his woodstove in the coming years warming his family during cold winter nights. Strangely the old tree was still alive but now it would exist in a different context and with a new purpose.
There are times and seasons of life when our life assignment will have to change. What was valuable and purposeful in the past will no longer be able to stand in the present. A moment of change will eventually come and our lives will be removed from the familiar and cherished to be reassessed and reassigned for something new. This is how legacy is created. We must be able to trust God enough to let go knowing that when we walk with Him whatever seems lost in the present is never the end but only the beginning of something new.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins