My favorite folktale is The Legend of Three Trees! The lesson it teaches goes way beyond anything that can be considered "just a children's story"!
Once there were three trees on a mountaintop. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Some day I hope to be a treasure chest. I would be filled with gold, silver and precious gems, I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see my beauty."
Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and Queens across the seas and sail to the corners of the earth. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."
Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and will look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and how close I am to reaching them. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."
(All of us have dreams just like the trees in The Legend of Three Trees!)
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodcutters came upon the trees. When one of then came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I do think that I would be able to sell this tree to a carpenter." And he began to cut the tree down. The tree was very happy because he knew that a carpenter could make him into a treasure chest for precious gems and metals.
At the second tree another woodcutter said. "This looks like a strong tree too, I should be able to sell this tree to a shipyard." The second tree was even more happy than the first tree because he knew that he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the other woodcutter saw the third tree, the tree was frightened because he heard the woodcutter say, "I don't have any special need for this tree, so I'll just cut it down and see later if I will have any need of it." The third tree thought that his dreams would not come true!
But when the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed-box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not what the first tree had dreamed of, or prayed for, and he was very disappointed. The second tree went to the shipyard and was made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship, carrying Kings and Queens across the seas, was ended. The third tree was cut up into planks and was left alone in the darkness. Many years went by and all the three trees forgot about their dreams and prayers.
(Have you ever been at a point in life in which you felt like your dreams were gone forever? Just like in Legend of Three Trees we can be encouraged that God is always in control and when we trust Him, He is able to do exceeding, abundantly more than we can think or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20)
Then one day, a man and a women came to the barn to stay for a while. She gave birth to a baby boy whilst she was there, and she placed the baby boy in the hay in the feed-box. The man wished he could have made a proper crib for the baby but this feed-box would have to do. But somehow the first tree felt the importance of this event and somehow knew that he had indeed held the greatest treasure of all time.
Some years later a group of men got into a small fishing boat made from the timber of the second tree. One of them was tired and fell asleep. Whilst they were out on the water a great storm came up and the second tree did not think that he was strong enough to keep the men safe. The other men in the fishing boat then woke the man who was asleep and he said, "Peace!" and the storm suddenly stopped. Now the tree knew that he had indeed carried the King of Kings.
Finally, some three years later, someone came and got the third tree's planks out of the dark shed. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop on a small hill the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die there. On the Sunday the third tree suddenly came to realize that it was indeed strong enough to stand on the top of a hill for all to see and that he was closer to heaven than he could ever have imagined.
That was better than being the tallest tree in the world!
Original author of The Legend of Three Trees is unknown - traditional folktale.
Be encouraged! God says in Jeremiah 29:11-14 -
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you," says the LORD."
Seek Him....He says He will be found by us, when we seek Him with our whole heart!
Just as The Legend of Three Trees points out - God's plans for us are bigger and better than anything we could ever dream!
Resources and lessons to teach using The Legend of Three Trees.