Little is much when God is in it
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ ”
Matthew 25:21 (ESV)
I was walking in the fields that form part of the curtilage of Sheffield Park Gardens and as I walked up a rise from the woods, I saw the tree you see in the picture. It looked well and truly dead, but instead of cutting it down, a fence had been erected around it. Why protect a tree that had had its time? But as I went past, I saw a notice on the fence. I went up to it and read:
Stag-headed Oak. The English oak in front of you is many centuries old and a wonderful example of a veteran tree. The tree is certainly showing signs of ageing, but still holds green foliage in its crown and provides perching spots to different species of corvids. The tree has been fenced off in order to protect it from compaction caused by cattle. Get in the gate to take a closer look.
Looking at it, I really was dubious about it actually being alive. I wasn’t going to take someone’s word for it, and following the example of Thomas, I decided that ‘seeing is believing’ and made a note to come back in summer. This is what it looks like now:
Not far away in Wakehurst Park, run by Kew, older trees have had the grass removed from around them, the soil loosened and the whole area mulched in order to give the trees the best environment to continue to grow. Other than the protection afforded by the fence, the oak tree has to deal with all the grass and nettles around it, and also, at the back, an elderberry tree growing right next to it. And you can see that it’s no longer able to support full leaf, but nevertheless this veteran is doing what it can, in spite of its age and circumstances. It is still productive, still providing perching points, and still contributing to the surrounding ecology of birds and insects.
The header title, ‘Little is much when God is in it’ is the title and first line of an encouraging little hymn. The second verse goes:
Does the place you’re called to labour
Seem so small and little known?
Well, it is great if God is in it,
And he’ll not forget his own. 1
And so we pray:
Today, Father, may we continue to serve you and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whatever our circumstances are, alert to the guidance of the Spirit. Amen.
Study by Hilary Buck
1 adapted from the hymn Little Is Much When God Is In It by Kittie L. Suffield (1924).
About the writer:
Hilary Buck is a minister and pastors the Lewes congregation of Grace Communion International.
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