Christian living, Inspirational

Who Poisoned Your Trees?

By Del Duduit

Most everyone has something they treasure.

Some items are sentimental, while others have real monetary value.

My wife has an antique curio cabinet full of nostalgic memories from her grandmother and other family members.

Most objects inside would never have much value to anyone except to her.

To her they are priceless.

And there’s my home office, for example. It’s full of pictures and autographs from celebrities, and there are a few awards scattered around the house too.

My office is my fortress of solitude. Pictures I took when my sons played ball are everywhere as well as baseballs framed in blocks that commemorate milestones. It gives me comfort and inspiration but has no meaning to anyone else.

But what would happen if these memorabilia were stolen or destroyed?

I would be devastated.

My life would go on, but a part of me would be saddened and frustrated.

They are artifacts of substantial personal worth to only me.

I can imagine how fans at the University of Auburn felt when two trees were poisoned by a fan of Alabama football in 2011. The oak trees had meaning and purpose.

My book, Auburn Believer: 40 Days of Devotions for the Tiger Faithful, relives the moment of how people were shocked by one person’s bad behavior.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Here is a portion of the chapter that discusses Toomer’s Corner, where the famed Oak Trees once stood:

The corner and the trees were decorated in toilet paper, and the fans loved every minute.

During football season, it was custom to hold pep rallies on the corner under the big oaks. But in January of 2011, an Alabama fan poisoned the trees out of his hatred for Tigers football. Harvey Updyke Jr. was arrested and later convicted of the crime that eventually killed the two trees.

 He was fined $1,000 and given a three-year “split sentence” of prison. He served six months in jail and was banned from the Auburn campus.

 Updyke was released from jail in 2013, and the following year, university officials announced it would plant two full-grown oak trees in the same spot where the originals once stood.

But in 2016, the symbolic trees were attacked again when one was set on fire. The next year, two new oaks were planted in hopes of restoring the tradition to celebrate an Auburn victory.

Why would anyone do that?

He knew the trees were loved by Auburn fans and had sentimental and traditional value. Yet he destroyed them out of hatred.

The same goes for the forces of evil today.

Satan wants to take away and ruin some of the things we hold dear without any justification.

We see it all over America today. Rioters and lawless people are destroying statues and monuments that have a significant meaning in history, whether good or bad.

No matter how nostalgic or expensive, items are being destroyed that for the most part cannot be replaced.

This is why many of my pictures are saved to the cloud.

But the devil wants to destroy you, your family, your past, and your future.

However, there are some things he cannot take from you, no matter how hard he tries:

  • Grace: God gives you free and unmerited favor as a gift, much more than you deserve. – But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4: 6 KJV)
  • Hope: – This is not a guarantee of immunity from harm, but even when it seems like the world is burning down around you, you can still have the hope that God is always present and can make all things right.
  • Faith: – You can have full trust in God to deliver you from any situation.
  • Joy: – This is impossible to legislate, but it is an essential social value and an attitude of positive well-being.  Only a true relationship with Jesus Christ can give you real joy.
  • Love: God helps us to love others unconditionally, even when they are unlovable. – He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4: 8 KJV)

My photos of Muhammad Ali or Pete Rose could be destroyed some day. I hope not, but life has risks, and there are no guarantees.

But no matter what, the devil and his minions cannot take away my grace, hope, faith, joy, and love, unless I allow them to be taken.

I have no control over what a burglar might do, unless I am home and my guns are close. But I can serve God faithfully and lay up my treasures in Heaven.

What things do you treasure, and how would you act if they were ruined?

You can read more about the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner and 39 other devotionals when Auburn Believer releases next week from New Hope Publishers and Iron Stream Media.

Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.

Join Coach Prasek and me each Tuesday on at 9: 30 p.m. EST

4 thoughts on “Who Poisoned Your Trees?”

  1. Del, what a great message for Christians in the world today, especially in the non-United States right now.Even during unsure times, we know that God is still in control! Our hope is in the Lord!
    Thanks for your encouragement in these uncharted times. ~ Ben C.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s