Devotions, Garden/Horticulture

A Girdled Tree

Read: Galatians 5:1-13

“But the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” – Mark 4:19 NASB

High winds aren’t uncommon in my part of the country and, because of this, those of us who worked at the garden center often advised our customers to “stake” their trees.  Using some rebar or bamboo and a bit of rope, a homeowner could provide a system of support for young saplings until their roots were well enough established to hold them upright… even amidst strong gusts.

Unfortunately, people didn’t always see the need to remove this support system as the trees matured, often leaving wire, rubber, or rope tied tightly around the trunk for many seasons… until this “girdle” literally disappeared into the tree.  Years later, these trees will begin to die and, seeing no apparent reason, their owners retreat to the local nurseries for help.

I was told the story of one consultation in which an employee had taken a trip to see a row of aspens which had been planted ten or twelve years earlier.  The trees had begun to die the previous summer.  First one and then the next until the property owner began to worry about the situation.

Examining the trees and seeing no obvious explanation for their sudden death, the nursery worker asked if he could take a look at one of the deceased specimens.  Cutting the tree open, he found a wire which had been put in place to hold the tree upright when it was just a sapling.  The tissue of the tree had grown around it and the wire was now embedded deep within its heart.  The flow of water and nutrients had been restricted by the wire, weakening the structure of the wood, and killing the tree.

As Christians we often allow ourselves to become girdled just like the trees in this story: allowing our preoccupation with the cares of this world to go unchecked for so long that it eventually chokes out the life offered to us through our Savior.  We must be careful to remove these “worldly wires” before they have the opportunity to prevent us from growing into the people God intended us to be!

Challenge: Most of us have things or people to whom we turn for support.  While Scripture is clear about our need for each other, it is also clear that our relationships (and the activities involved in them) sometimes do more harm than good.  Take a moment to consider your life today: is there anything or anyone who is hindering your spiritual growth?  Confess the problem to God, then commit to taking the steps necessary to prevent yourself from becoming girdled and unfruitful.