Life as Tree #4

by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey

Recently I read Love Always by Bob Goff. In it, Bob claims Jesus wants us to love everyone, always, and the book is full of his stories of how that looks. The publication has had a profound impact on me. But one of his stories made such an impression I had to share it.

Bob tells of a childhood experience where he tried out for a role in Peter Pan, “I tried out for the role of Peter, but I couldn’t sing or dance or fly, so I didn’t get it. I did get a part, though. My official title was Tree #4. I had no lines. I didn’t even get a name, like maple or oak. My role was to just stand there, hold my arms above my shoulders, wiggle my fingers and look like a tree. There was no mention of my name in the program, I didn’t get a backstage room with a star on it, or cast party celebrating my performance. You know what? I loved it! Here’s why; my role was clear, and it wasn’t too complicated. In short, I knew what I was there to do. Many of us don’t.”

“Something changes for us after elementary school. We try to make ourselves the hero or the victim of every story. Something goes wrong, and we want to be the victim; something goes right, and we want to make ourselves the hero. It doesn’t seem to matter which it is as long as we make it all about us. But if we make everything about us, it’ll never be about Jesus. What I’m coming to realize is we’re not the heroes, and we’re not the victims of all the stories happening around us. We’re just Tree #4.”

“We don’t need to be the hero in everyone’s story. Jesus already landed that part. Jesus doesn’t need our help with the hungry or thirsty or sick or strange or naked people in jails. He wants our hearts. He lets us participate if we’re willing, so we’ll learn more about how He feels about us and how He feels about the people we may have been avoiding.”
“So go ahead and risk loving others. You’re just Tree #4. You don’t need a bunch of lines; Jesus is in the lead role, and He’s got it handled. All you need are a couple of arms to hold up in the air like branches and a few fingers to wiggle.”

I love this story for so many reasons. It shouts truth in a way we can understand, it’s full of whimsy, and most of all, it is scripturally correct. I don’t know if Bob knew it or not, but his little story reflects what God says about us in Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

It turns out that being Tree #4 is far easier than you might expect. In fact, I know a bunch of trees who happen to believe when Jesus said to love your neighbor, He meant just that. Next week I am going to introduce you to some of my friend in the area. Unexpected people who have perfected the art of raising their arms above their shoulders, wiggling their fingers, and letting it all be about Jesus. They are some of my local heroes, and I hope the way they love will inspire you to get outside your comfort zone and love your neighbor Jesus style.