A Reflection on “Trees” by Twenty One Pilots
Welcome back from Spring Break! The following is a biblical reflection of the song “Trees” by Twenty One Pilots.
So I am a broken person. And I just wanted to share a song that I find tremendous comfort in. Trees by Twenty One Pilots. Recently I saw them in concert and had forgotten that their signature ending to all of their concerts was this song (ya I guess I’m not a real fan if I didn’t know that). So this song starts, and tears immediately start forming in my eyes. I starting singing along and my good friend, Taylor, saw the mess that I was as a single tear turned into many more.
Here are a few reasons why:
First, in general, there is something about music that speaks the words that you can’t say yourself. In that moment, I didn’t feel alone. I also didn’t say anything (other than “look Taylor I am balling my eyes out”), yet, I felt so heard. It’s a beautiful moment when the lyrics of a song can be your prayer when you don’t know what to say.
With that moment being over, I did some research on the song as it pieced together a whole other meaning to me. The song itself is about being broken, lost, and alone looking for God. Then, you stumble into a forest and find him there, silent, in a tree. Waiting for you to come back. I wrestled with this idea and found a ton of biblical references and explanations that only made the song ten times more meaningful.
The song starts with “I know where you stand. Silent in the trees.” With this, we have three key parts. The first being “I know.” You don’t have to say or do anything and there will always be one person who is already saying “I know.” He knows what’s going on. He always does.
The next part being “where you stand.” Throughout our lives we will stand in very different positions that we never expected ourselves to be in. Sometimes that could be in a sad place, sometimes it could be in a happy place, or sometimes it could be a place you’ve never been before. Regardless of where it is, He knows where you stand.
One thing I think I have been trying to remember in this season of my life is the importance of being in a certain spot in your life. God has you where you are for a reason. And if you’re not supposed to be in that spot, then he will bring you out of it. Many times we want to rush to the next chapter in our lives, but we should really be content with where we are in time, surrounded by the people we are meant to be surrounded by.
The next part, “Silent” has a whole description of its own. There is a lot of beauty in the silence. When Jesus would go out to the wilderness, he would mostly be silent, so he could hear God. Regularly, we busy ourselves with many things to do throughout the day that can be extremely noisy. When we do this, we have so many different voices (good or bad) speaking into our lives. I like the term, “busy ourselves.” By this, I mean that we, and we alone, are the reason why our lives are so busy. Yes, it doesn’t help that we live in a culture that has forced us to be busy and has made us feel worthless if we are not actively bettering ourselves. It makes us feel like if we aren’t doing something right this minute to better ourselves or our friends / family, then we are wasting our time. We live in a culture that idolizes being busy. If you have many things to do, (i.e. clubs, work, school, sports) all at once and it is keeping you busy, then you are considered a productive human that is doing something right.
The last lyric, “in the trees” paints a picture that God is up in a tree looking down on us. It isn’t a new idea that we can find God in the wilderness. Of course He is there! He created it after all. In this case, I wanted to point out how biblical it is to seek God in the trees (wilderness),
- “Yet He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray” (Luke 5:16).
- “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35)
- “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).
Jesus did this to set His compass back to God. He needed two things to do this.
- Silence (away from others, even his own disciples and the people who were good to him)
- The space to be alone (in this case the wilderness).
Sometimes you need to get away in order to come back. Finding your alone time with God is important and when we are disconnected from Him, we spend less of that alone time with Him. Personally, I have gone long periods without feeling connected. Feeling lonely. Without any motivation to change anything. I miss the days where I’ve been on fire for Jesus. More recently I’ve only felt like that on missions trips. I’m working on changing that.
One last token of appreciation for Twenty One Pilots: you know how important this song has to be to them if they always save it for the last? Most artists save their most popular song for the end, but Twenty One Pilots save the one that might mean the most to them. There are many people at their concerts who have never heard this song. Those people get to hear it, maybe for the first time, and they get to realize its importance to the band. At the very end of their concert after a bow, they say something that embodies everyone and makes you feel heard, “Thank you. We are Twenty One Pilots, and so are you.”
Here is a drawing I designed and had my friend Caeli draw up. I think it embodies the song pretty well. It also might be permanently on my arm in a few weeks.
Grace and peace,