The next three posts are the stories of those who have come to faith through unusual experiences with trees. The following story is from a testimony I had the privilege to hear at a Celebrate Recovery meeting:
She climbed into “her” tree, traumatized after being forced to take part in an especially gruesome occult ceremony. Only nine years old, she had nowhere else to go, since her parents were the ones who led her in this worship of blood, abuse, and darkness. She didn’t know who God was, but she knew this was not what she wanted. There had to be something more.
In her tree she found safety. She came here often and told it everything. She held tightly to its trunk, as she rested in the fork where the limbs came together. She felt encompassed by love—as if all her pain drained into the tree, traveled down its trunk and out through the roots. Away from her. It was her only place of refuge on the Reservation.
Although one of her abusers, she did have one friend she could talk to. This woman seemed to care some about her welfare. But when the woman’s fiancé broke off their engagement, she despaired and began to threaten to kill herself. Missing the only scrap of attention she had received from anyone, the girl was annoyed by the constant whimper of complaints. She’d had enough, “Just do it then!” she screamed, “You always say you’re going to kill yourself, but you never do!”
The next day, she heard the news—her only friend had shot herself. Driven by guilt, she ran to her tree and sobbed for hours. Not long after, her family moved off the Reservation where there was no tree; nowhere to go for comfort. She hardened her heart to everyone around her. Never again would she love someone; she would never trust again. She became a fighter; she didn’t need anyone. Drugs became her escape, but her misery grew.
Against her will, she found herself drawn to a group of Christians at school. She openly despised them, even as she yearned for the joy she saw in their lives. In time, she found herself on the edge of their group, listening in. Then, one of the gang. They told her about Jesus and the cross where He died—out of love.
Suddenly she understood the Presence in her childhood tree was not a spirit of nature, but the Son of God reaching out to her the only way she could understand at the time. Rather than gruesome images of blood sacrifice, she associated with the occult, Jesus wooed her with tangible love. She realized her true tree was the cross where Jesus willingly gave himself as the sacrifice for sin. Before He rose again to conquer death and sin forever.
God had prepared her, so many years before, to hear the message of salvation at just the right time—when she was ready to give herself to Him completely.
How wonderful we are loved by a God like this, who comes to us in ways we can accept and understand in the darkest hours of life. He met this little girl’s need for comfort through a tree she could cling to when no one else loved her, and brought her to himself through the love and joy of His people.
Now, she lives for the Christ of the Tree that loved her. She loves Him. She’s forgiven. Free. And lives a life of purpose, telling others the hope Jesus has for them as well.
#the cross of Jesus #testimonies for Easter #unusual conversions to Christianity