It was a tall, trusted tree, seemingly solid, but there it lay, its lofty branches broken, face down on the earth… Silent…

The Climbing Tree started as a stick-of-a-sapling, carefully planted deep in the moist earth. Its infantile roots where in need of nurture to grow wide in the rich soil. But it was planted with purpose by loving hands that would soon be forgotten as it grew upward, climbing into the sky. All that mattered to the young sapling was to daily draw in all the necessary water from the earth below, and to absorb all the needed sunlight from the sky above. It was good to be a tree.

These were formative years for the tree. It grew through the seasons, forming and falling its leaves, while its branches spread outward. Whipping winds came by day, causing it to sway, its spreading branches almost flailing. Chilling cold came by night, sapping it of life-strength, draining it right down to the roots. Yet somehow these challenging forces seemed only to fortify The Climbing Tree, resulting in maturation against any impending storm. The tree became increasingly invincible to anything that Life brought its way.

Soon, the once fragile stick began to be the Purpose for which it was initially planted – a climbing tree.

Broad limbs held up under any weight, including a popular swing. Smaller, solid branches above were close enough to be grabbed by children’s trusting hands, while strong enough for their adventuresome feet to climb upward. The tree’s imposing presence became a place for children to gather from the neighborhood. It took on the shape of a tall majestic mast to which its “sailors” clung in wild threatening seas. For those who ran to its towering presence it became a canopied safe-place; protection from light rain for huddled bodies seeking shelter, or designation for playful hands to tag seeking sanctuary. Most of all, depending on creative imagination, it became a treasured place upon which to build “a tree house” for privacy with close allies, free from wandering bullies, or “a fort” for defense against fierce enemies all around. Indeed, The Climbing Tree had a wide and revered reputation, becoming all that it was planted to be, hopefully for generations to come. It was good to finally become The Climbing Tree.

But something deadly, silently and slowly was allowed to creep in beneath the bark of the tree. At first it was subtle, barely noticeable within, yet it was intentionally kept hidden from those without. In fact it grew a rather thick bark as a convincing cover-up, to the admiration of many who climbed its sides. However, that something had secretly compromised what was once healthy, causing The Climbing Tree to weaken with decay right down to its core. Still, children continued to trust the now big structure, playing with innocent abandon on its limbs. The Climbing Tree, continued to be overconfident and filled with pride, feeling strong enough to handle this corrupting disease, by itself, alone. After all, it was invincible!

However in time, unattended corruption had rotted out the big old tree to the core. Although by day, the tree appeared strong, by night it creaked, as if weary of the facade of its greatness. It would shudder to its roots with the thought of its inner weakness being exposed for all to see. Years of denial could likely lead to its demise, cut down for everyone’s safety. The Climbing Tree’s higher purpose would be dashed and brought down.

Then one night the soaking rains came and the gusty winds blew. All who loved The Climbing Tree were safely sheltered in their own homes. Any thought of the tree was met with trusting confidence that it would be alright; standing strong by itself against any undermining elements. After all, it had before! Why not this time? But this time, THIS time, it was not good to be The Climbing Tree.

The storm passed in the night, and so did The Climbing Tree. Shocked and surprised, there were tears of disbelief. Young and old sadly gathered around its once gigantic and generous hulk in hushed grief. It had been a tall, trusted tree, seemingly solid, but there it lay, its lofty branches broken, face down on the earth… Silent…

Therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)