While arranging a bookshelf I rediscovered a wonderful book given to me years ago by my mother-in-law. It is called The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It is a fictional book about a tree that loved a boy. I’ve condensed it to fit here. Here is the basic story.
As a child, the boy swung from the tree’s branches. He ate the apples, rested in her shade, and climbed her limbs. The tree loved it and was happy to be his friend.
As the boy grew older, he had less time or interest to spend with the tree. “Come let’s play,” the tree asked. But the boy was now interested in making money. “Then take my apples and sell them.” He did and the tree was happy.
Time passed. The boy left home and returned as a man. The tree smiled to see him again. But the man was older now and bored with life. “Then cut me down. Make a boat from my limbs and trunk. Then you can sail away.” The man did, and the tree was happy.
For years the tree waited alone. The man returned, but now he was too old to play – or make money – or sail the seas. “I have a pretty good stump left, my friend. Why don’t you sit down and rest?” He did and the tree was happy.
Lessons from the Giving Tree
The book made me think of the many people who have given themselves so my life would have meaning and happiness. My mother, wife, and children come to mind first. There were school teachers, church workers, coaches, neighbors, and deacons. Far too many to list. All gave so I might grow. The debt can never be repaid, but it can be passed on.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We all like to receive. That’s ok. But there is a greater blessing in giving. Even today I am surrounded by a church family who has learned and lives this truth regularly. They say it is a wise man who plants a tree under whose shade he may never sit. Still, wiser are those who minister for Christ, knowing the results will bear eternal fruit. “Therefore brethren, be steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, for you know that your labor is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58).