I was at the top of the world. I was hanging big in my domain, at the top of the highest tree. I wasn’t worried about pesky squirrels or other furry creatures getting to me. I was snuggled comfortably in my outer shell, a blanket of warmth and protection.
But my blanket began to crack. It was coming apart as if it was peeling away little by little. And then the unthinkable. I was released to fall, and fall, and fall. I bounced of limbs and finally hit a layer of soft leaves.
The shock wore off and I was okay. These leaves weren’t so bad. I would miss my sunshine, but I could get used to the comfort of a bed of leaves.
No. Stay away. Don’t come near me you beady eyes, bushy tail monster. The squirrel picked me up and ran away. Far from my tree, far from my home. Was this it? Would I end up as a winter meal?
But Lady Luck had another plan … the squirrel got rattled by a noise and dropped me. I fell into a small hole. Maybe nobody would find me and I could just enjoy this place. I felt the sun. The ground was so soft. I think I’ll just take a long nap.
But when I woke up, something had changed. I wasn’t in my shell, I wasn’t a small nut anymore. I was a small tree. I reached for the sun, took in the rain, lost my leaves in the winter, and came back in glory in the spring. I grew big and strong.
I saw other trees come and go. But I remained. Houses were built. I shaded little kids playing. Had a swing from my strong arms. Provided walnuts for pies and sweets. Kids and animals climbed me. Birds played and sang in my upper leaves.
Life was good.
But then I felt the axe. The brutality. Piercing sharp blows bringing me closer and closer to falling over. Life seemed worthless. All I had done, all I had experienced was coming to ruthless and violent end.
I cried out, ‘Why?” I wanted to have meaning, purpose, a legacy. Had I survived the fall, the snatching by the squirrel, the long seasons, the storms, the years … for this?
I was cut, sawed, smoothed, and stacked in the corner of a shed. A man came by and took me home. When he handled me, it was gently, tender … as if he saw something in me. But I was near the end, I no longer had my glory of a strong, large walnut tree.
His hands shaped me. They smoothed my rough edges. They seemed to work with a passion, a vision of something I couldn’t see. Then he put a liquid … warm and calming on me. I had a luster, a warmth of color that brought out the grains, the knots, the flow of my texture. What was he making out me?
He loaded me in his truck and took me to a large building. It was not what I expected. A large meeting place. Holes and hangers were added. And then I was placed vertical again. But not outside. I was on a wall. Hanging there.
Was this it? What was going on? And then a voice talked to me. A firm and confident voice, but a comforting voice.
“Dear piece of wood, you will be a reminder of something great. For you will point people to our Creator, our Savior, our God. For you, you who started as a walnut, high in the tree … you who grew into a large, mighty tree … that isn’t your legacy. You are now a cross, the image of where everything changed, where Hope is realized, where sin was defeated, where death lost its sting. There is no greater legacy than to point people to Jesus.”
And then I heard him whisper, “And I pray my legacy will be like yours … pointing people to Jesus.”
Yesterday, in our worship, we had a new piece added to our worship center … a cross made of black walnut. We worshiped with the cross lifted high. May we forever live in the shadow of the cross, and may our legacy be pointing people to the cross, today and always.