We purchased the home we live in eight years ago. There was a tree in front of the home, just like every other house on the block. The month was December and so the tree appeared to be barren. As spring approached I noticed the tree’s bark appeared discolored and began to peel. For six years, I went back and forth with the HOA about replacing the tree. The bark appeared to shed. I shared that it appeared to be diseased from the onset. The HOA sent a company out to complete several treatments, but finally came to the conclusion that the tree was indeed dead and that it needed to be removed. I requested that the HOA board take my case under consideration and assume the cost of the removal of the tree. The person in charge of the HOA board didn’t check his email for about two months, so I never received a response. However, one day while at home taking a nap, I heard noise outside. I didn’t get up immediately. After all, I was at home recovering from surgery. Yet, Diamond continued to bark, so I figured I needed to see what the commotion was about. I opened the door to find that the tree was cut down, and a huge stump was left in the middle. I was completely surprised because I’d not agreed to the tree removal until I heard from the HOA board. Needless to say, I was disturbed, and then changed my request to the HOA board from tree removal to stump removal. Finally, the Board met, and denied my request. For the next 1.5 years, I continued to receive notifications threatening my lack of compliance with ordinances because I wouldn’t remove the stump and replace the tree.
I kept my emails and through searching, I was able to locate an email with the HOA requesting that I remove the tree. I wrote, “I will not remove the tree until I hear a response from the HOA board.” I was able to use that email as proof that what the HOA did was without my permission. They agreed. Last week I came home to find not only the tree stump removed, but also a brand new tree in my yard. It’s been 2 months short of eight years, but there is now some sense of uniformity where there was once considered non compliance. For years, we used the uniqueness to direct folk to our home, “We’re the fourth house on the right, or just look for the house without a tree.” As neighbors passed we’d hear, “Where’s their tree?” “How long is their tree going to be missing?” Or even, “It’s messing with our property value.” “They shouldn’t be allowed to do that.” Some would even exercise enough boldness to inquire, “Hi, what happened to your tree?” These are just the statements we heard, God only knows what was said without our knowledge.
Why does this matter? Glad you asked! It takes faith to endure – not to cave in and move before God instructs. It wasn’t an issue of funding. Sure tree removal is expensive but there have been a few purchases an excursions over the last eight years that weren’t required. It was a mater of sticking with truth and trusting that God would continue to work behind the scenes when I desired to act out as if I were up for a Golden Globe nomination. The truth was on our side – but more importantly God was. Psalm 1:3 reads: “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” From the outside and to others, it may externally look as though we are not experiencing growth and development, but only God knows how he is blessing the seed (or making space for the seed) planted deep on the inside, prepared to withstand every thing that riseth up against it. Despite what others are outwardly saying or for that matter what others may believe, let us hold fast to the promises of God. Sometimes that may mean that you stand out. It may mean that you experience what may feel like riding on a merry go round. It may feel as though others are bearing fruit, when you are operating from a place of invisibility. Not to worry. God does his best work when it appears that the odds are against us. In fact, he specializes in the impossible!
So, now we have a tree! It looks small comparatively speaking to others. We are required to water it for 20 minutes, two-three times per week. Am I worried? Not.one.bit. The tree will come forth as it is supposed to, as God designed it to. It looks better in its infantile state as compared to the one planted before we moved in. Should we be worried about life like others? Certainly not. We must stand firm upon the foundation of the Lord. Humming, We Shall Not Be Moved….like a tree that’s planted by the waters….