Your Child – A Mighty Tree in the Making

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Your Child – A Mighty Tree in the Making 

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I love trees.  I mean I really love trees.  I think I picked up this love from my Dad.  When I was a girl, I would watch him plant trees around our yard – LOTS of them.  Living in California at the time, he planted mostly redwood trees. He must have found this hobby therapeutic, because one visit to that old house reveals a virtual forest of redwood trees!  

 I enjoyed watching my Dad plant all those trees – a pretty simple process:  Dig a hole, loosen the root ball, put it in the ground, fill in the dirt and then always, three support straps anchored from all sides around the base of the tree.  They were loose enough to give the tree room to grow, yet secure enough for stability.  “Support System”, my Dad would call it, so the young tree would have a chance to grow straight and tall.  And there those rubber straps would stay, until there was firmness when you shook it, until those roots had time to deepen.  

 Support Systems.  They matter.

In a few weeks we will launch our second born son, Jack, into the great wide world of “life beyond childhood”. Our now mature “tree” is about to stand on his own.  Although there has been much loosening through the years, those straps are about to get their final cut.  It’s time.  

 As we do, my heart is filled with deep gratitude – gratitude for the treasure of a Christian support system. Those straps of support represent something meaningful to me.  These are the supports that have strengthened and fortified our son through the years.  Beyond the limited resources that his Dad and I could give him, these are the supports that have made him the mighty tree he is today.  God has been gracious and I am deeply grateful.  

 Jack’s three “support system” straps represent to me:

 His Family.  This one’s pretty obvious – my husband, me, his siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  There’s no doubt that Jack’s family has been a critical source of love and strength through the years.  Though we haven’t done it perfectly, Jack knows his family loves him so much and we will always be there to support and encourage him!  

 His Church and School.  These loving communities, who love our family and Christ, have made a huge impact on the growth and development of our family. By loving, supporting and investing in us, they have loved, supported and invested in Jack.  Through the years, they have rejoiced with us, grieved with us, helped us pack, helped us unpack…essentially, helped us do life!  Most of all, they have walked with us in faith, helping us to grow in Truth and Grace. 

 His Mentors.  I can’t say enough about these key people of influence in Jack’s life.  His Dad, his older brother, a godly family friend, his pastor, his youth pastor, headmasters, teachers, his cross country coach, the leader of our favorite Christian camp – thoughts and memories of these men and the impact they have had on Jack, literally bring tears to my eyes.  The time invested, the advice given along the way – life changing moments of affirmation, influence, instruction and occasionally, course correction.  How valuable.  How indispensable really.

 I can recall…

 –  Seeing my son come home from camp, hauling a huge hand-hewn table he and his mentor Stu made while he was away. 

–  Seeing tears from his cross country coach, Bill, as he shared the character and commitment my son had shown through a very difficult trial.  

–  Seeing regular Wednesday afternoons blocked off for time with his youth pastor, Adam – where there was much discussion about the best coffee and how to brew it, dark chocolate, plenty of laughter – and oh by the way, lots of godly advice shared. 

 Support systems are powerful.  Significant touches of relationship and investment impacting one life.  These people are to be remembered, appreciated and treasured. Many times along the way, their words and expressions of love and encouragement were vital.  

 As I ponder these sacrificial gifts, I am struck.  I really don’t know who he would be without them.  All I do know is that, by God’s grace, I am now standing here looking at a pretty amazing tree, standing straight and tall, looking like he’s ready to be cut loose. 

 Three short weeks until we cut those straps for good.  As we do I am grateful.  I am peaceful.  I know those straps were always meant to be cut.  And unlike our tree analogy, I know in many ways, those straps of support will remain.  But things will look different.  Independence is here.  

 As we enter this new chapter, I am trusting that with God’s help, Jack’s roots will hold.  They are deep and they are thick, resulting primarily from God’s Truth and Spirit working in His life.  But we can never discount the many lives that have been (and will continue to be) part of that invaluable support system strengthening our now mature and mighty tree.  

 Of course, I know as we cut those straps, there are no guarantees.  Life is wonderful and life is hard.  Only the storms of life will really tell the story of just how deep those roots go, how firmly they will hold.  But I trust God and know that as Jack continues walking with Him, all that has been poured into his identity and development will show itself through the years. 

 To all those who have been a part of this priceless support system, the impact has surely been profound.  From the heart of a Mom and Dad who deeply love their son, thank you, thank you, thank you!  

– Julie McGrath

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