Daily Devotionals

My Ever-Present Shade Tree

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My Ever-Present Shade Tree 


Scripture:  “God arranged a broad-leafed tree to spring up. It grew over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry sulk.  Jonah was pleased and enjoyed the shade.  Life was looking up.” – Jonah 4:6 (The Message)


Seventy years ago, my grandparents built a little lake house for their growing family to enjoy as a weekend respite.  In the backyard were two Ash Trees, one close to the house and one down by the lake.  As their family expanded, so did the house itself as my grandparents added on bedrooms, baths, a screened porch, and a massive deck to accommodate their children, friends, and extended family.  When constructing the deck in the 1970s, Nana and Pop were careful to build around the Ash Tree in the center, which provided a thick canopy of shade for outdoor gatherings.  


Under that same tree, I remember my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents laughing and talking over sweet tea and homemade ice cream after church every Sunday.  Ripe red watermelons were split open on the picnic table, birthday songs were sung, and stories were retold as afternoons tick-tocked into evenings.  Even on the hottest days of July, our sprawling family felt sweet summer comfort under the shade of that Ash Tree.  


Today, now with children of my own, I am sitting beneath that leafy canopy on the lake house deck.  It’s 10 degrees cooler under the shade of the Ash Tree, whose branches now extend at least 80 feet wide and provide homes to multiple species of birds and other wildlife.  The breeze from the water sets millions of leaves in motion, fanning us like honored guests under the gray bark arches.  I wonder if heaven’s sights and sounds are similar.  For generations, our family and friends have found refuge under the arms of the tree, where life seems ok — no matter how hot the temperature or threatening the storm of sky or circumstance may become.  


God is a lot like that, isn’t he? Always present, strong and centered. He offers us a cool breeze on the hottest days and protection from the storms of life.  Psalm 46:1 reminds us:  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  When we realize we are weak but he is strong, our tight grips of control loosen, we feel free to sit in his shade, and we give our troubles and worries to our Lord.  It’s as if he tells us, “Come and sit with Me, where it’s 10 degrees cooler.”  The Psalmist recounts: “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God….’” (Psalm 46:10).      


There’s an ease under the arms of the tree, where one knows without a doubt that God is bigger than any condition our world sets.  And there’s an ease in the arms of God himself.  Go there, sit, and breathe in the fresh air of his glorious presence.


Prayer:  Father, how the beauty of your creation reminds me today that you care about every detail, especially the matters of the heart!  Thank you, Lord, for being my refuge.  Amen.


Submitted by Caroline Coleman Bennett