The picture to the left was taken ½ mile from Lake Michigan on the way to Holland State park. This amazing picture, shows the accommodation a tree made for a chain-link fence.
If the tree had been a small sapling when the fence was installed, one would think the tree would simply have been pushed back a little. But apparently the tree was staunch enough, had grown one way long enough, was firmly set on its course such that it was not willing to be bent backward a little, and the fence was not going to change its mind either. So, what’s a tree supposed to do?
Mr. Tree elected to keep growing “as is.” And it did. The fence was a thing, no life in it, no brain to come up with an alternative route around fine, young Mr. Tree. So there was a stalemate on the “who-is-going-to-give-in” line.
In life many of us collide with others. We are trees who have grown a while—long enough we find changing very difficult. We are opposed by someone who seems like a lifeless, unresponsive lump of humanity—who is not about to flex, change or move over for someone else. Claiming they are grandfathered in, their attitude is: I am the one in charge. I am more than you are, so adapt. So what’s a Christian supposed to do?
Looking again at the picture above. It is obvious the tree grew to each side of itself in an effort to handle the pipe; an effort to adapt to the presence of the pipe. Mr. Tree could not change the pipe. It was made of metal and tree bark and tree flesh do not defeat metal. Mr. Tree had to adapt.
Mr. Tree was not defeated by the lifeless fence pipe—he just grew around it and kept on growing while Mr. Pipe remained at the same height. Mr. Tree fulfilled his mission of growing tall and providing shade, while Mr. Pipe remained at the same uninspiring elevation, while keeping people out.
How did Mr. Tree pull this off? How was he able to continue to grow? He focused on his God-ordained mission of providing shade. And he refused to be hindered. Refused to get unhealthy and shrivel. Refused to stop growing.
Some people are pipes, others are trees.
We can show deference to others. Many issues are not right or wrong, but simply different. We can accommodate people when no moral, spiritual or ethical problem is involved.
Dr. Sounding Brass was a gifted leader and had done well. However, he was arrogant and expected people to accommodate him. One of his fellow faculty members was more brilliant; a real scholar. The arrogance of Dr. Sounding Brass bothered the other man. But over the years, he became a tree who rose above the level of Mr. Pipe and climbed to shade many. Independent of Dr. Sounding Brass, he had a powerful impact over three decades because he grew around Dr. Sounding Brass. Blessed adaptability.