Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Little Men and Old Stump

[Jesus] replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots." ~Matthew 15:13
Little Men.

Not so little. And not yet men. Waging war with Old Stump.

I'm watching them, their spring-sun-bronzed hands gripping Old Stump, who was a decades old plum tree until death came, and Husband cut it down. Their arms strain, pulling at shoulder sockets. They rock back and forth, and though I can't hear through the kitchen window, I see lips forming grimaces, chests heaving grunts.

One runs to the shed for a pry bar, his anxious gait betraying the confidence he feels that this, this will finally work. Will finally loose deep roots from the earth, though they anchor yards away from Old Stump.

But as they trap pry bar between roots and strain, taking turns pushing and pulling, still it does not move.

At lunch, hunched over sandwiches and chips, gulping glasses of milk, they murmur quietly; constructing plans, pumping up energy, encouraging each other with slaps on the back.

But soon the afternoon is spent, and so are they.

And Old Stump still stands. Hatcheted, deceptively shortened and weakened above the earth, long and hardy below.

I join them at their work, hands on hips, estimating how best to grip, how to ease their work with my grown-up strength. Perhaps I can loose it, provide a second wind for my little men.

It is laughable how very much I grunt and how very little I budge Old Stump. They pat my arm and thank me though, and I step back, obviously too weak for the work, yet I have a captive audience (or simply exhausted), and so I am not wordless.

Sons, send your roots deep. When you pray, pray for this. Ask your God to strengthen you, to anchor your life in Him. When you are challenged, when the task is overwhelming, you are sending roots deep. And again, when you are shaken, pried, kicked, hatcheted... those roots will hold. Pray for this.

I kiss grubby cheeks and step back to the house. To my work, to send roots deep in building quiet strength that comes from refining repetition, for this is how the work is perfected. I suppose.

And I watch from the window as my little men struggle, then quietly enter the house at dusk. The fresh air of play and work has brushed their cheeks with sun and sweat; I eye them closely to see what roots have been sent deep this day.

When Husband offers his solution- a trench of dead pine needles surrounding Old Stump and set with fire- little men slump momentarily, and I wonder if this signals failure to them, if roots that were sent out in the afternoon are curling up in resignation.

We sleep on it.

And next day, the shouting and sparkling eyes and knocks on the door for a second calzone and more marshmallows for the fire that blazes- they are not defeated.

And middle son reminds me of why. Mama. The stump is gone. But the roots are still there!

I gaze, wondering, out kitchen window. The roots are still there.

Remember, Mama? I remember. Yes, son. And I will remember, too.

When I pray, I will pray for this.
At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
~Job 14:7-9

9 fellow travelers shared:

Ginger said...

Thank you for sharing... and encouraging once again. :)
Jeremiah 17:7-8 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."


Stacy said...

You are such a wise mama to see beyond Old Stump itself and see that as a teaching opportunity for your boys.
This is such a good encouragement for me to pray that God would open my eyes to such opportunities here in my home, with my own children.
Thank you for this beautiful post, friend.

Judy K said...

So rich, Daughter of Mine, so rich!

Carrie at dumptrucksandteacups said...

Oh, Elise, I echo your prayer for my own boys...

Your heart is beautiful, my friend.

Sending my love,

Deidra said...

Oh, the lessons God teaches as we - mothers, and fathers, and grandmothers, and grandfathers, and uncles, and aunts, and sisters, and brothers - stand at the kitchen window and watch. What rich, deep, lasting lessons we learn and we teach when we stand back and watch.

Linda said...

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy stepping back in time a bit with you Elise. I remember little boys playing and learning and absorbing truth into their dear hearts.
You are doing such a good job. I think the challenge for children growing up in a Godly home (and I was one myself) is taking all the teaching and wisdom we've been given and making it our own. With such practical wisdom, your little ones will do just that.

Stacey said...

shyly, quietly, i wonder....

is it okay to whisper here the ache.... the longing for son to have fellow travellers on this road of boy-to-manhood as yours do.

is it wrong to read your post and yearn for that which he will never have? no one to slap the back and construct plans with.

i am blessed by the meaning behind the post, to be sure. and thankful that my roots go deep. the reality of our barren grief prys at my heart.... but i stand firm. and in moments like this i retreat to the Word to sink them still deeper.

as for the son, the beloved one, his roots are being sunk in daily. much like the Old Stump. day by blessed day. thankful it doesn't have to happen overnight.

Emily said...

Love, love this. Thanks for sharing it.

Mrs.Rabe said...

Beautiful post.

That is our prayer that all our children's roots will grow down deep...

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