Look at the tree I posted above. It looks old doesn’t it….it’s gnarled and twisted….no branches….no leaves….nothing.
It must be dead, right?
This tree is one of several that live in what scientists with the U.S. Forestry service designate as the Methuselah Grove found in the Owens Valley of California’s White Mountains.
While all of the trees in this grove are ancient one particular tree is known as the Methuselah Tree because it has been dated to be approximately 4,600 years old. Yes, that means the tree was already alive when the pyramids of Egypt were constructed. It also means that the tree was alive during the time of Christ, and according to scientists it’s still here….still alive and still growing. Of course, the world’s oldest known tree and the grove it lives in is named after Methuselah, who the Bible tells us, lived to be 969 years old even though the tree has lived almost five times as long.
The pictures I have here are trees from the grove, but the oldest tree….the Methuselah Tree….is not identified to keep it safe from vandals and to keep folks from climbing all over it to get their pictures taken. The tree’s exact location is kept very secret.
A Nova television site states, Many of these ancient trees are more dead than alive, showing broad spans of exposed heartwood and dead tops. Such trees may only have one thin ribbon of living bark, usually on the downwind side, that shelters a lifeline of cambium connecting the roots to a single living branch. Such a slab-like tree may have been growing downwind for thousands of years, and the original center of the tree may be off to one side or eroded away altogether. Some trees show fire scars from lightning strikes...”
Even amidst all of the evidence that would tell us the trees are dead and dying there is life. The grove contains trees of the ancient variety as well as new seedlings. Pine cones carpet the ground and scientists have confirmed that even THE Methuselah Tree still produces pine cones.
The fact that these trees continue to live is amazing consider the growing conditions. There is very little water, no soil to speak of….actually it grows in dolomite which is more limestone than anything else….A bristlecone pine may add to its girth no more than an inch per century.
So, how do they do it? How do the trees continue live year after year….century after century in less than prime conditions?
It’s very simple.
Bristlecone pines have the ability to expand their roots and their crown (the part of the tree that is above ground). This means then can maximize the little bit of resources for growth that they do have. The grove contains very little undergrowth and brush which protects the trees in the event of fire. The needles that bristlecone pines have also live for long periods even on the ground…..they can last 30 to 40 years protecting the ground around the tree. The trees also can resist disease because they have dense, highly resinous wood that acts as a barrier to insects and bacteria.
We also often have less than optimum living conditions in our lives.
Limitations regarding resources and limitations regarding our interactions with people often change the course and direction of our lives. Life isn’t easy. Thing don’t always go the way we want them to.
We’ve all heard the saying but it bears repeating…..bad things happen to good people.
For example….Psalm 105 reminds us about Joseph and all the adversity he faced. Verses 17-19 explains…and he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true….
Point after point can be taken from Joseph’s life to show that God can take what is bad and turn it for good. Joseph encountered his brothers’ jealousy and was thrown into a pit, later he was sold into slavery, he was falsely accused and then languished in prison for a time.
Yet, Joseph’s life became a blessing for those around him.
Just like the Methuselah Tree….Joseph compensated at every downturn of his life. He remained steadfast in his faith.
The Methuselah Grove and Joseph both have important lessons to teach us all…important lessons regarding faith, remaining focused, and learning how to take what we are given and create a life….. out of the good and the bad.