By Rick Moore
Seen from Scenic 30A, and located on the easternmost part of Grayton Beach State Park is Western Lake. This is one of the fifteen coastal dune lakes in the area located along twenty-six miles of coastline in Walton County. The tall pine trees and sand dunes that separate this dune lake from the Gulf have been photographed and painted by artists from around the world. While many parts of Florida are identified by palm trees, the Emerald Coast is still identified by the mighty pines.
Before The Emerald Coast was known for its world-class tourism, the number one industry of the area was producing turpentine from the pine trees. Since the late 1800s, turpentine distillers throughout Walton County have used the resin from pine trees to produce household items such as soap, glue, rubber, and paint products. It was also used heavily in ship building.
The pine tree is not as strong as the mighty oak, nor as tall as the giant sequoia. The life of a pine tree doesn’t appear to be as exciting as that of the deer running by, or of the birds that nest in the branches. As the bunny rabbits chase each other, and the butterflies pollinate the flowers below, the pine tree remains still. Yet, the pine tree is very much alive.
You will not see pine trees lining glamorous streets like Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, nor positioned along the Promenade in Miami Beach. The pine tree isn’t trying to win a popularity contest. It doesn’t care how many “likes” it gets on Facebook or if it is voted tree of the year. It is content fulfilling its purpose.
Not many trees can withstand the many hurricane force winds these trees have withstood. Though the pines bend and the dunes shift, they continue to stand the test of time. They learn to bend so they do not break. The many storms these pine trees of Western Lake have persevered through have only made them stronger. Unlike many palm trees, the pines can withstand freezing temperatures as well as the blistering heat. There is much we can learn from the pines.
Tests help purify, temper and make us stronger. Testing doesn’t exist to destroy us. It prepares us for the next steps in our journey. Getting from where we are to where we want to be is hard. We often tend to run from or resent struggles when the storms of life head our way. This is especially true if it appears we will not survive the storm. Everyone faces moments when the likelihood of success seems unlikely, the challenges seem insurmountable, and the costs are simply too much. It is in such moments we come face to face with who we really are. Albert Einstein said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”
It is doubtful anyone living in the late 1800s would have painted the pine trees of Western Lake or considered them special in any way. It was often said how horrible the area was because little could be grown in such sandy soil. Western Lake would have been considered just another mosquito infested swamp area. Today, houses next door to Western Lake in WaterColor are worth millions of dollars, and the WaterColor Inn and Resort is one of the most sought after destinations on earth.
If you feel unimportant, not very valuable, or even worse, dead weight, consider this: You are very much alive. You are planted where you are planted. You have a purpose. Quit trying to be something or someone you are not. Accept the challenges that come your way. Be like a pine.
Rick Moore is Communications Pastor with Destiny Worship Center.