When I was 12 years old, my friend Doug and I used to pull a sled behind his four-wheeler. It was always enjoyable, at least for the one driving the four-wheeler.
The goal was simple drive crazy enough to knock the rider off without sending anyone to the hospital. We were good at the crazy part, and dumb enough never to go to the hospital.
One Saturday afternoon, we were out riding and Doug took a corner a bit too hard and I flew over a 4-foot snowdrift in his yard. After landing I realized we were in trouble. I wish it had been a broken leg or arm, or a punctured lung; instead, the rope that connected the four-wheeler to the sled had cut Doug’s dad’s favorite new evergreen in half.
As we stood around the tree, mourning it as if it had been our close friend for many years, the realization that we had only two options set in. We could either admit what we had done and take our punishment; or two, cover every trace of evidence and get our come-upins in the spring. Doug grabbed the little tree, took it over to where it had been, and shoved it back in the snowy hole. He looked at me and with a bit of a smirk and said, “In Minnesota, we might never see spring.”
Well, that little tree stood there for the next three months, and every time I walked by it, the guilt and fear grew. Not only had we lied and deceived Doug’s dad, but we were going to get caught.
Spring did come that year and I went out expecting to get what I deserved. As I biked into the yard, I saw the tree still standing.
The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11: “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.” What he meant is we were not God’s chosen people, yet through the mercy of Christ, we are grafted into the promise of Abraham. Through Christ, we are grafted onto the promise.
I don’t actually know what happened with the tree. Maybe Doug covered for me and his dad replanted it, or my memory is playing tricks on me and it never happened, or maybe, just maybe the tree grafted back together.
What I do know is I sinned, and yet, there was forgiveness. To be grafted into something means you are given life, and through God’s love, we are grafted into a new hope of what’s to come.