Down in the Cypress Hills Provincial Park, a few miles south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, you will discover a number of Nature Trails.   The park supervisor will provide you with information that will make these hikes something to remember and appreciate…for they tell a story written by the hand of nature, bearing eloquent testimony of things that happened many years ago.   One trail is called: “The Valley of the Beavers.”   On it you will see evidence of the skill and architecture of these industrious creatures.
One of the most impressive and unforgettable hikes, takes you through a tour of “The Valley of the Windfalls.”   Although the circular hike is less than one mile in distance, the sights and scenes cover many hundreds of years in history.   A heap of shelled pine cones tells the story of the chattering red squirrel and his industrious provision for the long winter hibernation.   A narrow pathway leads to a water hole, where deer tracks reveal the presence of these animals satisfying their thirst at the cool shady spring.   An old log shows the handiwork of the woodpecker whose sharp bill like a riveter, leaves it pock-marked with scars or hollowed out for a nest.   Almost every turn on the path through the Valley of the Windfalls is filled with interesting evidence of things that happened long ago.
The Windfalls themselves, are might trees that were toppled by storms in the past.   They lie prone and useless with their toots torn from the soil, to which they had been anchored.   They crisscross in various directions, according to the battering of the storm which blew them down.   Some fell long ago and their trunks are well rotted and blending with the soil from which they came.   Others apparently were felled in more recent times and the soil still clings to their roots.   Once these proud trees stood tall and stately with their majestic branches affording shelter and protection from the elements.   The harsh snows of winter failed to kill them.   They drank up the raindrops and towered towards the sunshine.   They appeared to be strong and permanent like other trees in the dense forest.   Why did these particular trees topple before the onslaught of the storm?   Why did other trees stand and what was the difference?
It should be observed that two qualities are essential to give a tree strength and endurance.   They need a sound heart and also a secure root.   The harsh testing which natural things must undergo, reveal whether either of these qualities is lacking.   The oak tree may break, while the grass only bends.   Under ideal conditions one may not detect the disease within the tree that is rotting its core, but the storm plays no favorites.   A soft green carpet of spongy soil may hide a shallow root for awhile, but the wind will not spare it from its savage gusts.   The rotted tree breaks.   The shallow root gives way under strain.
The Valley of the Windfalls presents a scene of charm and picturesque beauty.   But it also conveys a sense of sadness as you view these fallen timbers that crashed in the storms long ago.   Their grotesque roots sprawling in a tangled mass, betray their weakness even though that weakness was not revealed until after the storm.   Their testimony is one of failure under stress.   The squirrels still chatter in the high branches of surrounding trees.   The trill of birds can be clearly heard in the quiet air.   The chipmunk and the woodpecker still carry on their trade.   The cycle of nature goes on for every living creature, while these windfalls lie where they fell, giving mute evidence that their roots were not deep enough.
 Life affords many parallels to the Valley of the Windfalls.   Some men stand high in public trust and have a respectable reputation, but life has its storms and its testings too.   Woe to the man who is not strong enough to weather temptation and surmount pressures to compromise right principles.   Good captains are not made in secluded harbors or tranquil seas.   Good soldiers are not made in barracks or produced with sight-seeing trips.   Soldiers on parade all look much alike, but soldiers under fire reveal how deep the roots of discipline have penetrated.   It’s the bursting shells and the whine of the bullets that test the mettle of the man.
There’s a lesson which everyone can learn from nature.   It’s what happens under the storms of persecution and the onslaught of doubts, fears, temptations and other forms of testing that reveal the true caliber of character.   Many, sad to say, have gone down, under such circumstances.   Christians are to be rooted and grounded in love.” (Eph. 3:17)   The heart must be pure and sound or time will reveal the inner lack.
If the inner glow of spiritual life has ceased to invigorate the soul, watch out.   If the root is only clinging to some spongy soil of compromise, it will not endure.   Sooner or later it will topple.   When a tree cannot bear up before the elements, the result is interesting, but when a man succumbs to similar circumstances, the result is heart breaking and tragic indeed.   Don’t let your reach exceed your grasp.   If you hope to reach heaven’s height, be sure your roots grip the solid rock.   Be sure the shelter you offer is not provided by branches clinging to hollow trees.   Life’s Valley of the Windfalls provides some very harsh lessons of what weakness will do.   Let’s seek to excel in strength.


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