A friend and I mounted a couple of 20-year-old BMW motorcycles on vacation last week, and headed out of Phoenix, through Wickenburg, to Prescott.
About 20 miles out of Prescott, at about 6,000 ft in elevation, we pulled off the twisty mountain pass and headed down a dirt trail until we couldn’t ride any further just to get out into the wildness of the desert.
We dismounted and each walked off the dirt path to find a private spot just to listen and pray.
I climbed a little knoll and was immediately struck by a gnarly old tree sitting all by itself at the top of the hill.
It stood all alone on the hill, surrounded by scrub desert growth. It was wind-blown, weathered, with some old dried limbs, but still having the beauty and life of new growth.
The bark really made an impact on me. It looked like alligator skin.
And for some reason all I could think of, looking at that old tree, was my dad at the end of his life and ministry.
My friend and travel partner is a horticulturalist, so after a while, I walked back to the bikes and made him come see my tree.
He informed me it was a “One Seed Juniper.” Then, he gave me some facts about the tree that totally explained why it made me think of my dad.
That Juniper has the longest tap root of any tree in North America.
Over 200 feet deep for a Juniper of that age and size.
That explains how it survives periods of drought and the hurricane winds that rip through that mountain pass from time to time.
Also, the bark of the Juniper is such that it can survive a forest fire without the tree being consumed.
In fact, when we got home we did a little research and discovered that the Granite Mountain fire of 2013 ran right over that hill with the lonely Juniper.
And the tree survived the fire. The gnarly bark told the story.
Now I know why that tree reminded me of my dad… and it’s story holds lessons for you and me.
You are that Juniper planted on a hill near a mountain pass.
With a tap root that runs deep into the goodness and provision of God, you will survive and even flourish through periods of drought and the opposing winds of life.
With bark designed by God to withstand the fires of adversity… you and I will come through the heat looking stately and full of life.
That Juniper is a witness to the presence and power of God that will bring you though victoriously!