The thunder rumbled in the distance as the sun dipped behind the tree line to the west. I pulled up the radar on my phone to see what we were in store for and my eyes confirmed what my ears heard. A typical evening thunderstorm in Alabama was rolling in from the Southwest. I eased out onto the front porch to watch the front push through. Within minutes the pine trees were whipping as the downdrafts crashed across the property. Watching storms is something that I love to do.
The next morning as we were cleaning up the limbs that littered the driveway I heard the unmistakable sound of wood cracking followed by the thud of heavy weight slamming into the ground. By now I think I’m qualified to answer the age old question about trees falling in the woods, and the answer is yes… they always make a sound.
I made my way over to the sheep pen to find a large pine tree that had crashed across the fence into the pen, narrowly missing the covered manger where the sheep had been feeding. At first glance the tree appeared to be healthy and had simply weakened from the strong winds the night before and finally gave in, but upon closer inspection, when I kicked the trunk with my boot the bark fell away and revealed the real culprit. This seemingly healthy looking exterior was merely a facade. The inside was destroyed by termites. They had eaten their way throughout the entire trunk until only a shell remained. Being so weak, it was no surprise that the storm winds had delivered a death blow.
Termites rarely attack living trees or wood. They are scavengers who infest dead things. Living trees are much too dense and can resist the attack of the invader. Dead wood, on the other hand, is brittle, dry, and weak, leaving it no defense to counter the attack. It is vulnerable and easily compromised.
As I stood over the dead and broken tree I saw a picture of my life. No matter how “alive” I appeared on the outside, the condition of my soul is what really determines health. In other words, we can do a lot of things to appear as though we are killing it on the outside, winning at work, winning on the field, winning at home, but if we are dying on the inside it’s only a matter of time until we come crashing down.
Living trees don’t fall victim to the infestation of termites. Our lives are very similar. When we are truly “alive” and living with purpose we are strengthened against the attacks that come against us. When we are passionately chasing something great, working to achieve a goal, or helping make other’s lives better, we are more resistant to the little, annoying, discouraging lies that we often tell ourselves.
The best way to shut up the liar inside of us is to prove him wrong with action. For example, when the liar says you’re not making a difference, take an action and live in such a way that someone else’s day is better because you did something.
If we’re going to stay “alive” and keep our “tree” healthy, we’ve got to take action and push back against the feelings of apathy. Don’t let the subtle disappointments in life suck the life out of you to the point that you are weak enough to fall when the wind blows. Keep pursuing your passions. Go out of your way to make someone else’s day better. Smile at a stranger as you hold the door open for them today.
Healthy trees don’t get destroyed by termites. Be a healthy tree. Live passionately today and do all you can so that your soul is as healthy as your exterior. When your soul is healthy you can withstand the storms of life.