The Bonsai Effect: Saving you from a safe, pristine and largely ineffective life for Christ


There is something majestic, something regal about trees – especially the old ones. I always wonder what some of them have ‘seen’ in their lifetimes. They recently cut down some gum trees close to our house and the diameter was too wide for a pick-up truck, it blew my mind. Giant Sequoia’s and Baobab Trees, some of the largest in the world, are astounding to look at. Check out the images below…

Our neighbours collect the opposite, Bonsai trees. Bonsai is a Japanese term for a small tree.  Bonsai trees are artificially prevented from reaching their natural size. They are trees that could have been huge but have been forced to stay small through cutting them in certain ways, not allowing their roots to go to the proper depth, and by placing lots of rocks in their way to stunt their growth. This takes time, effort and care. They have a huge variety of trees of differing type and age. Time seems to stand still as you explore each unique root structure. They look amazing. Check out these awesome examples from his collection below:


They are awesome right!? A bonsai would be an incredible decoration in our lounge or dining room. We would have fun forcing it to grow over different rocks, seeing the seasons change on it, the conversations around it when friends come over for a meal.

BUT! As they are now, these bonsai trees will never be used for what they were created for. These trees could have been placed in a garden, or a park – they could have grown to provide shade to sit under, branches for children to climb on, a place for birds to nest in, or something that produces fruit to give nourishment to others.

How often do our lives reflect these little bonsai trees? They may look pretty (a new iphone, a nice wardrobe, some overseas holidays, a comfortable home), safe from the storms of life (a pension fund, some savings, good home security), something that people talk about over dinner as they look at it (a great business deal, really good sports game, pretty girlfriend) – but not really all that we were created for. Safe, pristine – but not very EFFECTIVE.

Is your life planted in its own little bowl?

Or is it planted where it can have a great impact and bless many people?

You can live for your own little empire that may have some glimpses of beauty, or you can get yourself planted into the wild outdoors where you can have a large impact for Gods Huge Vast Unending Kingdom!

Matthew4vs18-20 talks about two people being taken out of the bonsai bowl…

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

Simon and Andrew were fisherman. Well respected. Enough cash. Good solid bonsai lives. And Jesus gave them the opportunity to get out the bonsai bowl and to be planted into His World, full of excitement, risk, danger and eternal purpose. Such was the authority of His voice that they obeyed immediately.

Does that mean that if you follow Jesus you have to change jobs, recreational activities, or subjects at school and do something different? Possibly, but not necessarily. It means that your focus changes to what God finds important, to living for His Fame in this world and not our own. 

I want to challenge you to listen to Jesus’ voice. He is speaking loud and clear – we just need to make sure there is nothing blocking His voice. It doesn’t matter if you are 12, 25 or 70, it is never too late to get out of that bonsai bowl and into the life that God has called you to.

Will it be plain sailing? Not at all. There will be pests, heat and cold. But will it be rewarding! More than you can comprehend!  Eternal purpose, greater beauty, deep roots, a life that stands strong in tough conditions.

Be the tree that God has called you to be.

God is a gentleman. He won’t force you. He won’t pull you by a chain.  He will ask you. He will reach out His hand and invite you to join the great adventure. Something better, Something real, Something life-giving.

The decision is ours….what will you choose?