No one else noticed those little saplings on that Sunday morning in 1961 that had been planted by the robust young dad in the middle of a busy work week. He took a special interest in the property on Nisbet Street in Jacksonville, Alabama. It was where he took his family to worship every week. And worship was the focal point of the week. Nobody else noticed, I guess. But God knew.
God said this surprising thing in Deuteronomy 20:19,20 about the trees in the fields of Israel’s enemies as they conquered Canaan:
“When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.”
God is so good. He told them to leave the trees that would sustain them, and to cut down the ones that would protect them. He knew the difference between fruit trees and hardwoods. Of course He did. He made them. He gave them purpose in His cycle of life. Those little saplings on Nisbet Street were the bulwark kind of trees.
Lots of things have changed since that day my dad planted those saplings in the church yard in Jacksonville. (Here’s the original story about those big oak trees and about some other little acorns, too: https://thecolleyhouse.org/dad-planted-acorns
But this last Monday will be remembered for many years as the day the tornado hit Jacksonville. There was so much property damage for that church we love in Jacksonville. I know if I were the devil, I’d be glad it destroyed the entire building from which that amazing House to House publication, that gospel proclaimer that reaches more households than almost any printed material in the world, emanates. But God knows about storms, too.
Isaiah 25:3,4 says this about the Lord and storms:
Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee. For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
God knows about that storm destroying the building where His people were busy every day making sure that House to House made its way to all of us. He knows about His “strong people” glorifying Him! He knows about the loss of all that equipment used to plan and preserve the treasured lessons of Polishing the Pulpit, reaching thousands upon thousands every year through live audiences and recorded teaching. He knows how to make eternal riches from rubble and He will bless His people in their distress. In fact, we’ve already been assured that not one issue of House to House will be missed in mailboxes around the world. Polishing the Pulpit will be on schedule. God is good!
And he knows about the fall of a big tree, too. It’s a sad picture, but the good folks at Jacksonville have already granted us permission to haul off the huge trunk of that big oak tree. God knows about re-purposing, too. Is it time you let the Powerful One repurpose you? You will one day bow before Him. Why not make it now and be on the side of the Great One who can be your ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1)– your shelter in the time of storm?
Let’s pray for those difficult hours of clean-up and for the rebuilding efforts in Jacksonville. Let’s rejoice that no lives were lost! Let’s serve Him!