Monday, 10 October 2011

What does the story of the three trees mean?

Do you know the traditional story of the three trees? What do you think it means? We were discussing this question after the story was told in church on Sunday.

I love the story. I bought a copy of the retelling by Angela Elwell Hunt when Sophie was small and it moved me to tears when I read it. I was moved to tears on Sunday when it was told in Bislama, evidence that there is power in the story itself rather than in Hunt's particular combination of words (powerful as they may be).

But, when the story-teller on Sunday got to the end he struggled a little to tell the children what the meaning of the story was. He said something about God having a plan for our lives. Similar statements are made here (you can read the story there if you don't know it... it seems to be copied word for word from Angela Hunt's version, except for this little "moral" at the end);
The next time you feel down because you didn't get what you wanted, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.
and here (you can read the story there, too);
The moral of this story is that when things do not seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, but not in the way they had imagined. We do not always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Is that it? What do you think?


Alison Blake said...

Hi Rachael,
Thank you for mentioning this book because I've never known what to make of it! It captured my interest when I first read it - I think because the story "felt" so creative and clever but I came away very uncomfortable with it, not knowing what I was supposed to learn or understand! It's not like Pilgrim's Progress or the Narnia books where you can see clear parallels with the Christian journey or the gospel. I think it's more like Veggie Tales - where "good" behaviour and attitudes are taught through morality tales about trees and vegetables. Titus 2 tells me that it's the grace of God (in Jesus), bringing salvation, teaches us to live lives of godliness. Disconnecting morality from the gospel is an insult to the person and work of Chris. When morality is not built on the gospel, then we we're left to build on the quicksand of human wisdom and whatever philosophy is currently fashionable in society. Dangerous! Personally I wouldn't give/read the book to anyone.

Anonymous said...

This book has brought tears to my eyes in the past too. I didn't ever connect it with the idea of "God has a wonderful plan for your life". I took it as saying that God uses the most humble, unspectacular, unexpected things to bring about his greatest works. To bring about his long - awaited salvation through a humiliating death, with his Son nailed to a rough piece of wood..... who would have ever thought it? It makes me change the way I look at things.


Rachael said...

Hi Alison and Jill. Thanks for your comments.

What sort of morality do you think the book is teaching, Alison? That we have to do our bit for God? I had never felt that it was particularly moral tale... but the comments along the lines of "plan for my life" that I quoted do seem to be. They're definitely very "me" centred.

You definitely have a very different perspective, Jill. Through weakness and humility God works strength; through the despised and rejected things he reveals glory; through death he brings life. Is this what you mean?

Little Em said...

Is that the book that Loki ate?