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  • Erik Hatch

Free Trees

When I was twelve years old, I went to an NDSU football game where they gave away free trees. Each person was given a little sapling, and so my mom and I took our 8 inch evergreen babies home (well, at least I think they were evergreens – I know as much about trees as I do about Ugandan Prime Ministers).

We planted them on our hill in the backyard of our townhome. And for the next ten years I watched those trees grow to be maybe 3 feet tall. It was painstakingly slow.

Since then I’ve moved and have no reason to go up to the old neighborhood anymore..except for my aunt who was living in the area up until a few months ago. But I had never paid attention to the trees until recently.

Those suckers now tower at 15+ feet tall, taking up much of the hill in the back. It’s overwhelming. It took 24 years for them to turn into ‘adult’ trees – but sure enough, they’re powerful and towering.

I never thought those trees would make it. I ‘accidentally’ tripped on them countless times while playing in the backyard. They baked in the hot sun without ample water more times than not – or they were buried in the white tundra of a North Dakota winter for far too long. But these little saplings made it – against the odds.

There are a couple of lessons I see in these free trees. First, I learned that things take time. Serious time. As a part of the instant gratification generation, most of us aren’t comfortable waiting. For example: if our internet is slow to load…it’s enough tension to start WWIII. We want everything NOW. We drive faster – we eat faster – we are over-stimulated and under-satisfied.

And yet, there are those little saplings that made it. And it took a LONG time. The things that really last and are worthwhile in this world take some serious time.

The second lesson I pulled from these trees is that the more stuff you go through – the stronger your roots can be. Now this isn’t true for everyone in everything, but I do believe it to be true for these trees. The 100 degree, cloudless days helped to make those trees resilient. The 50 below, treacherous winters showed that these trees can handle even the toughest of conditions.

Yes, the growth was slow. There were times in which we didn’t think they’d make it. But with the right soil…strength is found.

If you’re reading this, you might be going through a storm in which doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. You might be livid at how life is unfolding because things aren’t happening like you’d want them to. But rest assured that God takes His sweet time with some things. And the things that take the longest are the ones that are the sweetest. Root yourself in good soil and trust that things will work out in the end.

Heck – you’re 100% for getting through tough times up until this point. I doubt that will change anytime soon. And it’s the storms and the droughts of this world that develop character and strength for tomorrow. So trust that God will do good with your current tribulations. God will bring light in the darkness. God will take his time so that the sweetness is all the more cherished.

Erik Hatch

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