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It’s not You Who Makes the Trees Grow

August 9, 2019 4 min read

I can’t work my way out of this.

“This” seems to change in every season. Sometimes “this” is some kind of problem. It’s a situation that’s out of my control. It’s a sticky relational battle. Sometimes “this” is a goal or a vision for the way I think things should be. Sometimes “this” is a change I want to see in myself or in others or in my community. “This” is constantly changing, and rarely, if ever, can I work my way out of “this.”

Right now, I have to remind myself of this daily. It’s not because I believe inaction or apathy is the solution. I don’t believe change organically happens. I don’t believe all of our problems will simply solve themselves if we just let them. No, it’s quite the opposite. I believe we need to engage with whatever “this” is in our lives, but we need to remember that it’s not all on our shoulders. 

We don’t make the trees grow. 

A few weeks ago, I did what I so often do, turning back in the pages of my journal—reading notes from my journey with the Father. Journaling isn’t for everyone, but for me, it has a way of marking moments and seasons. It’s a mix of my own thoughts and the voice of the Father, and it reminds that holy, sacred ground encounters outlast the moment they happen in. 

May 13, 2019. The words were simple, a kind of poem. That being said, I don’t claim to be a poet by any means, but every once in awhile, inspiration strikes, and I pick up a pen like I’m Mary Oliver or Maya Angelou.

In my planning and strategizing
Don’t let me pass you by
walk past you on the side of the road
don’t let me miss the holy, divine sacred moments
Pause in the presence of Jesus
Dear heart, don’t hustle
It’s not you who makes the trees grow

I barely remember writing these words, but it’s a reminder most of us need often—you don’t make the trees grow. Your hustling and striving for the sake of working really hard or proving yourself do nothing to add to this world around us. It does nothing to make time move faster or the plan make more sense. It does nothing to make the world spin, the sun rise. Dear heart, don’t hustle. It’s not you who makes the trees grow. 

In this season of crazy transition and change, I remind my heart of this every single day, because these kinds of seasons don’t always feel the best. In this particular one, I feel that temptation to buy into the belief that I need to prove who I am, prove my worth, prove my skill, prove that I have a place around the table, prove that I’m doing something valuable when everyday feels so very different than the normal I’ve been used to. It’s a battle I’m so very familiar with—a battle I’ve known my whole life and will probably continue to know intimately. And these days, the Father has repeated this simple verse from Isaiah:

Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

That word, quietness, doesn’t really mean to be silent. It’s something much deeper. It’s a kind of quietness in our heart, our soul. It’s a rest. It’s putting down the sword. It’s putting down work. It’s putting down the need to hustle and strive and prove. 

My culture—this midwest, farm life—values hard work. It’s deeply engrained in us. We’re a self-built kind of people. We love efficiency and effectiveness. Just look at Northern Indiana. Our main industries are RV factories, farming, and other manufacturing. We love hard work, and this isn’t a sin by any means. But I think sometimes we believe we can solve anything, become anything, do anything if we just work harder, run faster, be better—the very damaging kind of hustling.

And someday, if you’re like me, you just might wake up and find yourself completely and totally exhausted—tired of proving who you are, proving you’re strong enough, proving you’re a hard worker, proving that all this hustling is for something good, when in reality, you’re trying to do job that was never yours to take.

Dear heart, don’t hustle. 
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
It’s not you who makes the trees grow.

Sometimes I think we need this reminder—no matter how hard we work, at the end of the day, we don’t make the trees grow. We can’t. That’s not our job. We’ve taken a responsibility upon ourselves that was never ours to carry. 

Only in returning to the Father—relying on His breath in and out of our lungs. Only in resting in Him—letting His work, His very character be enough for us. Only in being with the Father will we find the kind of life we long for. In quietness—rest, peace, stillness of heart and mind and soul—and confidence is our strength. 

Friend, let go of the hustle, the never-ending working. Let go of proving yourself to a Father with whom you have nothing to prove. In the rest and stillness of being with Him, in confidence is your strength.

Dear heart, don’t hustle.
It’s not you who makes the trees grow. 

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