On an Australian beach, a young man named Lynton Allan pulled a youth from the surf and tried to resuscitate him. Combined with getting the sack, a major operation and reflecting on his self-centred life of drugs and parties, Lynton comes to realize that there is a power outside himself.
For the last 20 years Lynton has been involved in ‘taking art off the wall’ and performing it live in front of audiences in schools, community groups, festivals, and public gatherings. With a large art board, coloured pastel, a quick hand and a gift for story telling, He has enthralled and inspired audiences from small out back communities to large coastal cities. Self taught, Lynton has honed his skills over the last 20 years through live performance art. Lynton’s vibrant, life-giving pastels celebrate his love for God and the uniqueness and beauty of Australia.
THE FIRST TREE: dead and lifeless
“Burning Skies” by Lynton Allan
The first tree is a dead; gnarled, twisted and interesting to paint, but none the less, dead. It was this very sense of being lifeless and being at the end of myself that caused me to seek a ‘Greater Other’. As those who have benefited from Alcoholics Anonymous know, before there is any spiritual growth in life we first have to admit that we are powerless and have no real control over our lives.
Death is final
I arrived at this point through a series of painful and challenging experiences. The first came from a weekend at the beach where I helped to pull a drowned youth from the surf. As we tried to resuscitate him, I kept thinking how sudden and final death is and would I be ready if that had been me?
Getting the sack
The very next week I was called into the boss’s office at work and he sacked me after reading out a comprehensive list of all my faults. Even though this seemed unfair, deep down I knew that he had spoken the truth about me and I didn’t like what I saw.
A major operation
Shortly after this, I was admitted to hospital for a major operation on my kidney and as I signed the consent form from the hospital I was thinking deeply about the possible outcome. What if I didn’t pull through? Was there a God? Where did I stand and what if God had a huge list of all my wrongs? What then?
Drugs, parties and the self-centred life
My girl friend and a couple of my mates who I did drugs with, came to visit me and tried to cheer me up. They were tripping out on something and promised me a good time when I got out. As I looked at them I sensed that I didn’t want to go down that road any longer and that I desperately needed something more real and satisfying than parties, drugs and self-centred living.
THE SECOND TREE: Jesus hanging from the tree
“The Jesus Tree” by Lynton Allan
The second tree is paradoxically an ordinary but unique tree. In Australia, between a small country town called Baralaba and an Aboriginal community named Woorabinda stands the ‘Jesus Tree’. With its broken off limbs and the gnarled growth in the centre, the resemblance to Jesus hanging on the tree/cross is striking. The face like growth is not an ant nest but part of the trunk caused most likely by a wound to the tree when it was a sapling. I have chosen to refer to this tree to mark an amazing experience I had while in the hospital which caused me to come to believe that a greater and more loving ‘Other’ than myself could help me.
The courage of a friend
As my friends left, an old friend whom I had grown up with but hadn’t seen for a long time came into my room to see me. I knew that he was a Christian and I guess it took him a lot of courage to see me because our lives were very different. He didn’t try to Bible bash me or to convert me in any way but simply expressed genuine concern and asked if he could help. We talked for a while and I could see that he had a quality of life that was real and attractive.
There is a better way
When he left I had this overwhelming sense of another presence in the room that I couldn’t see. With this presence came deep feelings of acceptance and love. It was here that I started to think about the person of Jesus and realized that there was more to the story than what I had learned as a child but had walked away from as an adult. If Jesus really did come to flesh God out and put a face on love than perhaps this was what I had been looking for all my life. The God that Jesus came to reveal was not one who was judging me for all my wrongs, or telling me that I had to jump over some religious or moral high bar to be accepted, but one who laid down his life and died for me even while I was far away. The Jesus tree symbolizes the great mystery that in the death of Christ somehow God was able to put right all the wrongs in my life and offer me complete soul healing and the promise a better way. Thinking about this made me feel both excited and scared. What did I need to do and what changes would need to be made?
“Lynton, it’s between me and you!”
I made it through the operation and went home to recuperate, and all the while the strong sense of someone calling me remained. Feeling the need to talk to someone I went to the local pub to see a good friend of mine who was also my drug dealer. I bought some drugs from him and started to ask him what he thought about all this God stuff. He stopped me in mid sentence and said that he wanted to ask me a question. He pointed to some of the people who were on the dance floor and one by one told me that even though they looked happy on the out side, he knew that inside they were very empty, messed up and searching for something else. He then looked at me and said that he was one of them too and could I help? I felt like God reached down in that pub and grabbed me by the collar and said quietly “Lynton, they can’t help you, it is between you and me.”
Giving back the drugs
I excused myself and went home. Lying on my bed in the night I made a decision to turn my will and life (warts and all) to the care of God, as I understood him. To put legs on my decision I drove round to a house where I knew my drug dealer would be and gave the drugs back telling him to keep the money.
THE THIRD TREE: a new life
“New Life” by Lynton Allan
The third and final tree stands on Mt Tamborine. There you will find numerous stumps of large forest trees that were felled years ago, but now have growing from within them a small sapling. This new life began from a seed dropped by a visiting bird. The seed, usually a fig, germinates and begins to grow in the rotting core of the stump. As the fig matures and spreads out its roots, it will eventually take over and become a massive adult tree. To me this is a picture of what was begun on that night and continues today.
I could stop putting on the mask
When I returned home and lay down I felt an incredible peace descend on me. I was no longer trying to figure everything out in my head but instead I knew that I was right with my Maker and that I could trust God to sort things out in his own way and time. I felt this joy welling from up inside me and it was so different from any high I had experienced in the past. More importantly, I sensed again but to a greater degree than before that I was fully accepted and loved. I knew that I could stop putting a mask on and cease trying to impress others to gain their approval. A seed had been planted deep inside me was packed full of life, purpose and a whole new way of looking at others and myself.
Restitution: stealing was wrong
To give you an example of this new life, I realized that it had nothing to do with how I dressed or looked on the outside but rather it was all about the inner life. A few days later I was under my house working out on some weights that I had stolen from a police gym. No one knew where these had come from but as I looked at them I was feeling very uneasy and sensed that God was calling me to put this area right in my life with his help. Faith (trusting) is always a risk venture but to be real it has got to be acted on. I loaded up my car and went back to the police gym. The look on the sergeant’s face had to be seen to be believed as I explained that I had a truckload of his gear and was willing to make restitution! This led to an amazing discussion about what had happened and as I left once more I was filled with a deep joy.
The journey of faith
I am by no means perfect – in fact the older I get the more I am conscious of my imperfections, but the seed continues to grow and my soul is a very different shape today thanks to the indwelling life of Jesus. I trust that my story has been of some help to you on your journey of faith. By the way, keep your eyes open for those interesting trees all around you.