We all have heard that God knows the number of hairs on our heads. I firmly believe that he also knows the number of trees on Earth. I also believe that the Lord has placed them purposefully.

“I will plant trees—cedars, myrtle, olive trees, cypress, fir, and pine—on barren land. Everyone will see this miracle and understand that it is God who did it, Israel’s Holy One.” Isaiah 41:19-20 (LTB)

There are four trees I know of that have been instrumental in saving my family.

My son was working at a Christian camp high in the Sierras. He had driven the road up and down the mountain scores of times. On one occasion he was planning to meet us for lunch in the valley. On his way down he took a curve too fast and his car skidded across the road toward the edge of the mountain, an edge without guardrails. Except for the presence of a lone tree that stopped his car, he would have tumbled over the cliff. I have no doubt that God spared him. Years before, God arranged for that lone tree to thrive and prevent a tragedy.

My daughter was on her way to work one morning. She had a routine; she always drove the center lane of the westbound boulevard to her destination. Two miles from home, she felt a sudden jolt. The car immediately spun around and she found herself on the narrow median facing the oncoming cars that had, moments before, been traveling behind her. She was totally unaware that a teenage driver had become distracted and hit her on the back corner of her car, unintentionally resulting in a PIT maneuver, something law enforcement uses to stop a dangerous driver. Her car had come to rest against a tree, one of four planted at this spot on the road. It had prevented her car from spinning into the heavy oncoming traffic, which could have resulted in a major collision. Many would acknowledge that several years prior a county employee had decided to place these trees at this spot in the median of the roadway. I know that God, in His divine wisdom and mercy, placed it in the mind of that county employee to place that tree there.

Two thousand years ago, Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was traveling through Jericho enroute to Jerusalem. Apparently this created quite a stir in the city as people lined the street. Having coped with a short stature all his life, Zacchaeus knew how to find a good vantage point; he climbed a tree. That tree was strong and tall enough to hold a man at a height to look over a crowd. That tree was most likely a seedling that sprouted along a very busy road. There was every reason for it to be trampled, but God protected it. The tree grew into a sapling and eventually into that strong, tall tree. God placed that tree on that spot because it was His design for Zacchaeus to “collide” into a relationship with Jesus, who became his Lord and Savior.

Another collision in history occurred only days later. There was a tree that God allowed to grow for many years, knowing that it would one day be used to torture and kill His Son. This tree was the altar God used to pay for my sin. I deserve to die, yet God placed that tree along my path so that I, like Zacchaeus, would “collide” into a relationship with Jesus.

How blessed I am that He has planted trees. Perhaps we can be more appreciative of the trees the Lord has planted along our paths. He has a purpose for us; perhaps he has a purpose for the trees, too.