A Tale of a Tree and a Pipe

In the dream, I was standing on the grassy slope of the dam that overlooks the lake behind my parents’ house. A metal pipe jutted out of the dam and a tiny green stem poked through the pipe. A sign planted beside the pipe said, “Beware of the trees that grow in the pipe.” But, strangely enough, I didn’t believe the words on the sign—it seemed to me as if the trees were good and the people who had written the words were just trying to prevent their growth. As I watched, the little green stem began to grow, so quickly that soon roots and tree branches were fairly bursting out of the pipe.

The dream stuck with me for two reasons: one, because a mentor had recently encouraged me to start writing my dreams down to see if God had anything to say through them, and two, because it seemed so utterly symbolic. To me, the green stem represented personal growth. I wasn’t sure how or in what way, but it was an encouraging message, so I held on to it.

A few weeks ago, as I listened to my first lecture for grad school, I was stunned to hear the professor say, “I want you to be ‘tree students,’ not ‘pipe students.’” The wording was so similar to my dream that I sat up straight to listen.

“Both the tree and the pipe are conduits of water,” he explained. “But the pipe isn’t changed by the water.”

The tree, on the other hand, is transformed by water. It grows and bears fruit.

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3

Hearing these words felt like such a sweet confirmation that I was in the right place. The past two months of balancing work, school, and volunteering have been tricky, I’m not going to lie. I don’t know how long I’ll be in this season of juggling all these roles, but it’s comforting to know God has led me to where I am.

Those words also present a huge challenge. By nature, I’m a very performance-driven student. It’s easy for me to be motivated by grades rather than true learning. In this case, I think working for the grade would turn me into a pipe student—more likely than not, most of what I learn will slide right on out of me. But if I shift my motivation to learning as much as I can, I become more like a tree—that knowledge will seep inside me and change the way I live.

It’s a tough transition and I don’t think it will come all at once. But it’s an area I desperately want to grow in.

I would love to hear from you! Have you ever had any similar experiences where God confirmed you were right where you’re supposed to be? Or do you have any tips on becoming a tree not a pipe?

Leave a Reply