How We’re Learning

By Kori Yates

How to Become a Tree

I feel stuck. I want to be strong and mighty, a faithful, mature child of the King. Yet, I seem to struggle with the same things over and over. Reading my Bible, attending church, spending time in prayer, and building community with other believers are all things I do regularly.

Really I do.

And yet I still feel stuck. I feel like I am a twig of a tree, a sapling, instead of being the huge, strong, mature tree I long to be.

I fall into the same traps, thinking this time will be different. I let fear and anxiety seep into my heart and hope nobody notices that I am such a weak little sapling. Seasons like PCSing, deployments, and retirement discussions can bring on these feelings, but so can the every day commitments, jobs, children, and the ever-changing community in which we live.

I want to be free from the constraints of my knowledge and understanding and reach far beyond into the knowledge of Him.

They 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 (Jeremiah 17:8).

Recently, Billy Graham was in the news because of his passing. But in all of those interviews and discussions about his life, we saw a giant in the faith. We read about giants in Scripture like Paul, Nehemiah, Mary, and Deborah. Rarely, in glimpses of their life, do we see fear, anxiety, uncertainty, or doubt.

I look at my own life and heart and wonder if I’ll ever even come close to that. In the pondering, though, God has reminded me of two things.

  1. The Christian walk is not like Facebook: I measure the everyday feelings of my heart and thoughts of my mind to the intermittent public actions of others. That is not how God measures at all. A legacy of faithfulness doesn’t come from perfection but from perseverance. Just ask David.
  2. I don’t grow myself: It is my nature to fix things. I want to fix everything from the challenges my family is facing to the struggle of the lady at the grocery store. The thing I want to fix most many times is myself. I want to grow myself, change myself, help myself. There are things I can do to facilitate growth like Scripture reading and time in prayer. But at the end of the day, it’s Him who grows me.

The verse in Jeremiah is a great, but it means even more when we look back at the verse before it. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Those who trust in the Lord, who have confidence in Him – those people will be like a tree. Surely, we can do that.

How to become a tree:

  1. Remember: The Lord has drilled this into my heart for a couple of years now. Make a list of what He has already done, run through your mind His faithfulness – everything from homes in new places to lifelong battle buddies and from regular paychecks to government shutdowns. He has been faithful and we need to remember.
  2. Build Relationship: We cannot grow ourselves but we can build a relationship with the Lord. As in every relationship, it is a two-way street. It takes time and intentional effort. Spend time with the Lord. Talk to Him, listen to Him, read His word, join with fellow believers in worship and life.
  3. Rest: Trust that He is doing a work in you and rest. In our striving to do it all right and be enough for everyone, we have to be reminded that we are never enough…but He is. Rest in His will, His way, and His timing.
  4. Trust: We may never see the results of all God has done in us, the full picture, but it doesn’t mean He hasn’t used us. We may never see the legacy we leave. But if we are obedient, our legacy will be one of Jesus.

Your Turn:

Take time this week to remember what you used to be and what you are. The difference in the two is Jesus. He is growing you.

Spend time with Him this week, learning and listening. Seek Him out in the day-to-day and watch as He changes your heart and perspective.

Rest in Him. We will never measure up or think we have “made it.” Our hope is the extraordinary things God can do with an ordinary life. 


Lord, help us to trust you today. Help us to have confidence in who you are and what you have done so we can step forward in courage as you grow us into the tree we long to be. Only by your grace and power Lord. 

Additional Resources:

I wrote this poem a few years ago as we launched Planting Roots. It is still my heart today.

I long to be a tree

strong and brave and tall

To live the life that God intended

answering the call

I want to grow from a stick

to a huge and mighty tree

With roots deep in the soil

of what He’s done for me

Soaking up the hope and life

only He could give

Into a trunk of God Himself

that is the strength to live

Leading, guiding, restoring

He grows me stronger still

With arms raised up in worship

because of hope fulfilled

Reaching out into the world

bearing fruit wherever I go

I become the mighty tree

I wished for so long ago

He sees in me that mighty tree

that only He could grow

He builds me step by step

this I surely know

I worship Him this day

not because of who I am

But because of what He can do in me

and it’s in that hope I stand

May He be glorified

in the tree I grow to be

A testament to the world

of what He is to me.