A little way into the forest, the grandson saw an old oak tree that had never been cut. The boy asked his grandfather if he could cut it down because it was useless for boat building – there were no straight limbs, the trunk was short and gnarled, and the curves were going the wrong way. “We could cut it down for firewood,” the grandson said. “At least then it will be of some use to us.” The woodcutter replied that for now they should go about their work cutting the proper trees for the boat builders; maybe later they could return to the old oak tree.
After a few hours of cutting the huge trees, the grandson grew tired and asked if they could stop for a rest in some cool shade.
The woodcutter took his grandson over to the old oak tree, where they rested against its trunk in the cool shade beneath its twisted limbs. After they had rested a while, the woodcutter explained to his grandson the necessity of attentive awareness and recognition of everything in the forest and in the world. Some things are readily apparent, like the tall straight trees; other things are less apparent, requiring closer attention, like recognition of the proper curves in the limbs. And some things might initially appear to have no purpose at all, like the gnarled old oak tree.
The woodcutter stated, “You must learn to pay careful attention everyday so you can recognize and discover the purpose God has for everything in creation. For it is this old oak tree, which you so quickly deemed useless except for firewood, that now allows us to rest against its trunk amidst the coolness of its shade.
“Remember, grandson, not everything is as it first appears. Be patient, pay attention, recognize, and discover.”