The Parable of the Mountain Laurel
James R. Aist
As you may know, in the Bible, a parable is a story that uses well-known, common, everyday events or experiences to illustrate a spiritual truth or teaching. This parable took a couple of years to develop and several more years for me to discover. After I moved to Knoxville in 2004, I had new landscaping shrubbery planted in a straight row along the front of our house. Among the new shrubs were three Mountain Laurels, a species that is common in East Tennessee, both wild and domestic. At first, these new shrubs appeared healthy and vigorous, producing abundant growth with leaves of a deep green color and a few white, flowering wands. But, within a few years, things began to change for the worse.
These shrubs began to die off one at at time, one or two branches at a time. In each case, I would prune off the dead branches in hopes that the infection would not spread to the remaining branches, but, alas and alack, it always did. Once the first shrub was dead, I removed it in hopes that the infection would not spread to the adjacent shrub, but it did. This cycle was repeated until all that was left of the original three shrubs was one branch of the last shrub. This branch was healthy and green, but I couldn’t imagine how it could possibly develop into a fully and properly formed ornamental shrub, even if it were to remain healthy. Just when I was about to remove the last remnant of the three shrubs and start all over again, I decided to just let it stand until this last branch began to die, and then remove it. I was not going to be the instrument of demise of this last shrub while there was still life in it.
As time went by, I kept noticing that the last branch was remaining healthy and green. Soon, new, healthy branches began to grow from the good branch. It was then that I realized that this good branch had, somehow, escaped infection. As the years went by, more and more healthy green branches were added each year, until now, I have a large, healthy and beautiful Mountain Laurel growing in front of my house (see photo, above)! Had I given up on that last shrub while it had just that one healthy branch left, its potential would not have been realized.
So, what is the spiritual lesson in this parable of the Mountain Laurel? I believe it is that we should never give up on anyone who may seem to be beyond hope. I believe that this lesson applies not only to the salvation of the soul, but also to the healing and restoration of one who is seemingly lying at death’s door. In either case, it’s not over until God says its over, so let’s not give up on them too soon!
(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE.)