The Bradford Pear and the Oak: a Metaphor

Opening the door to my car a few weeks ago, I saw it.  The beginnings of the white blossoms on the Bradford Pear tree. My heart rejoiced.  Spring is here!

Over the coming weeks, I watched in awe as the multitude of Bradford Pears began to bloom into a snowy canvas of beauty. Then the white blossoms began to give way to brilliant green leaves.

As I drank the beauty of another life-after-death example in God’s creation in these weeks, I noticed that the larger trees looked like they were still living in the dead of winter.

But just this week, I began to see signs of life in the form of small green buds on these large, towering trees.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. –Isaiah 43: 19

Just like spring is a “new thing” after months in the cold, deadness of winter, God is doing a “new thing” around us.  I can sense it. I can see it.  I can feel it.  I’m being transformed by it.

God’s light is shining on the soils of the hearts of his children, warming us up to the spring that is coming. Can you feel it?

Yet just as God didn’t create each tree alike, he did not create us alike.

Just as some trees to bloom sooner than others, some of us perceive this new thing at different times.

Some of us are Bradford Pears.  We jump to bloom at the first sign of spring.  We’re particularly sensitive to the lengthening daylight, the warmth of the earth.  We’re ready to grow!  We’re ready to produce! We’re ready for this new thing!  But we’re also among the weakest of trees, the first to get damaged during a heavy storm.

And some of us are Oaks.  We still look dead when the light begins to shine on us.  We’ve seen our share of January warm snaps that have taught us to be patient for the real thing.  We’ll bloom, just like our sister trees, you can count on it.  We just bloom a little later, when the onset of spring is certain.  And we are strong.  Our roots run deep.  We don’t falter when the storms come.

Our churches, our families, our communities, and our small groups are filled with Bradford Pears and Oaks and everything in between.  But the beauty of God’s diversity can also come at the expense of contention if we don’t understand and exercise grace in our differences.

Dear Bradford Pear, your sensitivity to the work of the Spirit is beautiful!  You are ready to bloom and display God’s creation.  You are among the first to show the world that God is in fact doing a new thing.  Embrace that God made you this way for a purpose and it’s beautiful! But don’t look down on your sister the Oak because she isn’t quite ready to bloom yet. Be patient. She’ll get there as the warmth of the Spirit continues to steadily shine on her.  God made her that way, too.  Behold her strength!  You have your weakness, and it would be wise of you to shelter in the shadow of her strong branches before storms come, and they will.  For together, you most aptly display the beauty and strength that points to your Creator.

Dear Oak, your strength runs deep.  The storms of life don’t tear you down, and if they wound you, your reserves allow you to continue being who you were created to be.  Your height and your breadth cast cool shade during the harshest of summers, pointing to the Creator who longs to shelter his children in the shadow of his wings.  But don’t look down on your sister the Bradford Pear because she jumps to bloom at the slightest warmth.  God created her that way to be among the first to who points out that God is doing a new thing!  Behold her beauty!  And ask her to come shelter beneath your tall, thick branches.  She is more fragile than you and will need you to protect her when the storms of life blow.  For together, you most aptly display the beauty and strength that points to your Creator.

I have been amazed at the diversity of God’s creation.  It’s beautiful!  And each creation has its purpose.  May we also behold the diversity in our midst, within one another.  May we look past the weaknesses and exemplify the strengths.

For together, we most aptly display the beauty and strength that points to our Creator.

Jill McSheehy