The Tree of Marriage
There was a man who moved his family to another city, where he rented a house and was excited to show his wife and children their new home. He was especially happy to show his family the fruit trees that were growing in the backyard of their home. There were about twenty fruit trees of different types. Some were apple trees, some plum, peach, and cherry trees.
But there were some problems in the backyard where the fruit trees were with a small creek. One problem was a small apple tree that appeared only a year old and was situated in the middle of the other fruit trees, where it no longer stood upright but had fallen to the ground. The soil under the tree was muddy, and the roots of the apple tree were not deep enough to keep it upright. He was not sure exactly what to do but thought he should at least hold it upright, and he put a board in the ground and propped up the tree with it. He considered that this temporary fix would not last and eventually he would have to take the apple tree out altogether, but at least for the moment it stood upright and looked better than just lying in the mud.
Another problem in his back yard was: Two tall trees were situated right next to the small stream, and one of them was leaning dangerously over some of the fruit trees. He looked at the tree and saw that its roots were exposed. The small stream had cut away at the bank next to the tall tree and was exposing its roots. Every time there was a rainstorm, the creek would rise and cut away a little more each time until it had this tall tree in its present situation, and he was not sure what to do about it.
Time passed and one day there was a storm with lighting and torrential rain. The man was in the house with his family, enjoying their time together, when suddenly everyone heard a loud crash in their backyard. Everyone realized that something very wrong had happened and they all raced to the window with a view toward the backyard. The storm with its torrential rains had swollen the little creek to several times its size and was cutting away at its banks with a torrent of water. One of the children said, “Look, Dad, the tall tree that was leaning is no longer there but on the ground.” And what was worse was that three of the fruit trees were smashed by the fallen tree!
The next day the man spoke with his neighbor about what had happened and said he really did not know what he could have done to have prevented it. His neighbor did not respond but walked over to look at the other tall tree that was still standing and said, “Look here.” This tree was also next to the creek, and this last storm had exposed some of its roots, and though it was not yet leaning over, it was inevitable that unless something happened, it would eventually have the same fate as the other. And his neighbor added, “You’re lucky that this time it was only some of your fruit trees that were hit.”
“What do you mean, I was lucky?” he asked.
His neighbor responded, “Next time it might not be your fruit trees that are crushed, but someone in your family!”
“But what can I do?” he asked.
His neighbor thought he should get some concrete slabs and cover the exposed roots of the tree and fill it in with gravel, and not ignore the problem but keep a careful watch over it. This he did, and the tall tree lasted all the rest of the time they were in that house.
Before I bring this to its conclusion, I need to tell you one more short story. A man and his wife were eating at a restaurant, and the waitress had taken up a conversation with the man’s wife. The waitress was going through a divorce with her husband and talking about all the cost, problems with lawyers, going to the court, and all the fighting back and forth. And then she made this statement, “I will be glad when it is all over!”
But the lady she was talking to responded, “You will never get over it!”
“Oh, I am sorry. I did not know you had had a divorce,” said the waitress.
“No, I have not been divorced,” she said, “but my parents were, and I have never gotten over it.”
When a tall tree falls, it does more than just make a loud nose, for whatever it falls on will be destroyed. “Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away…” (Malachi 2:14-16). It is interesting that when God speaks of divorce (“putting away”) between a husband and a wife, He mentions children (“seed”). Children are hurt and confused by the divorce of their parents; some of the children even place the blame for their parents’ divorce on themselves. But of course it is not the fault of the children, and they need to be plainly told this. There are, however, a number of storms that are attacking the tree of marriage.
1. No time. “The honeymoon is over and everything should take care of itself. Right?” No! If you mow your lawn one time, water it, weed it, trim and fertilize it, then you will never have to do it again, right? Of course not! You will have to keep working at it. Why is your neighbor's lawn nice than yours? It is no mystery, he works at it more. How did you treat your spouse before you were married? Was it a sweet time? Then you will have to do those things again to have the same effect. Once you made time, you shared little amusing things that had happened during your day, you went for walks, you thought of each other and even gave little gifts. If you did it before, you can do it again!
2. Lack of forgiveness. Some have said, “I will never forgive her.” God says, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Colossians 3:19). I once knew someone I was very upset with, and I felt like God wanted me to ask that person to forgive me for being so angry at him, and I told God, “I could never do that.” But God spoke to my heart and said, “Yes you can,” I said, “Yes, but I don’t want to!” Well, I did ask that person to forgive me, and I felt great afterward!
3. Selfishness. The Word of God says, “[R]emember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Our greatest happiness is not when others make us happy but when we make others happy! Do not have pride! Seek advice from those who have happy marriages.
Christ worked His first miracle at a wedding. And why did He choose to work a miracle at a wedding? Because He was invited to the wedding and there was a need. Christ desires to be the head of every family, and our part is to invite Him into our marriages and families. The best place to start is to invite Him into your heart. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
We should not trust in our own wisdom, ticks, strengths, or abilities, but seek the Lord and ask Him to bless our marriages and children. But some will respond, “That means I will have to get my heart right with the Lord.” Yes, and maybe God even allowed the problem so you would get right with Him. There is a saying, “The closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other.” The last verse in the Old Testament says, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).
The story about the man with the neighbor, who said he should protect the tree's roots with cement slabs, has more to it. The neighbor also said, “Do not expect to get much fruit from your fruit trees this year.”
“But why?” asked the man.
His neighbor responded, “Since you have lived here, you have not done anything for these trees.”
“What do you mean, I have to do something for these trees?”
“Well, of course, you have to take care of them,” said his neighbor. “They don’t just take care of themselves! You must prune them, pull the weeds out around them, and fertilize them.” And he added, “If you don't, next year it will be even worse. It would be better if you started now.”
Why do you think that some people have nicer fruit trees than others? Nicer Gardens? Lawns? Marriages? They spend more time with them and they take care of them. Do you remember the small apple tree that was in the mud because its roots were not long enough to hold it upright? After some time, the man came up to the apple tree and kicked out the board that was propping it up, thinking it would fall over, but it didn’t! Its roots had grown sufficient to hold itself upright. It only needed a little help.
Please read our other short stories at the top of the page
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