To loggers of the Pacific Northwest it was a worthless nuisance. To them, it was a useless shrub that got in the way of the “real trees” and valuable timber. I’m talking about the Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia). The Pacific or western yew is a small evergreen tree whose tendency to rot from its core outward and to have a “multiple leader” trunk, makes it unsuitable for lumber. Plus, its sticky red berries, though loved by thrushes, give off a mucus-like resin that stains clothing, hands, and hair. No wonder so many people hate this bush!
Zero to a Hero
But science has discovered that this zero is actually a hero. It has become a valuable source of the cancer-fighting drug paclitaxel (taxol). Furthermore, it is used against breast, ovarian, and lung cancer. I first read about this humble shrub in the Founders Grove Tour Guide published by the Humboldt Redwood State Park in Northern California. Describing the Pacific yew’s incalculable worth to medical science, the tour guide concludes with these words. “How many other plants or animals that live in the ancient forest have an unknown potential?”i
I can think of one of God’s creatures whose worth and potential are not only unknown, but are tragically underestimated or dismissed altogether–every human being! Human beings are created in God’s image, beloved by our heavenly Father, served by angels, and bought with the blood of God’s own Son. Shouldn’t this give us an inkling of our incredible value? Shouldn’t it affect the way we view each other—and ourselves? And shouldn’t it give us hope for ourselves, that though we may feel as useless as the Pacific yew, that God has hidden in us an immense potential for goodness and greatness?
What is Your True Potential
What is your true potential? It is known only to God Who created you. The great agricultural scientist, George Washington Carver once noted, “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.” Therefore, commit your plans, your dreams, and your future into the loving hands of your heavenly Father. He has the best blueprint for your life and wants to help you fulfill your true destiny. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Don’t run from the God who loves you and only desires your very best. Embrace Him. In His arms there is healing and hope.
Dear Father in heaven, into Your all-capable and loving hands I commit the raw material of my life. Please make me into the person You created me to be and help me to fulfill Your purpose for my life. Amen.
Founder’s Grove: Humboldt Redwoods State Park (self-guided tour pamphlet), #12.