June 7, 2016
I have always loved the lazy days of summer. I guess I will always associate summer with being out of school, even though I have not been a student or a teacher for a good while now. I still feel the relief of an easier schedule and warmer, sunny days. I have such fond memories of swimming, one of my favorite past times. Can’t swim in the winter. There is nothing better than a good hot day and a swimming pool or a lake or the ocean. Pure bliss! (We won’t talk about some of the sunburns I’ve foolishly fallen victim to.)
Before we can get to summer, we have the privilege of tip-toeing through spring time, which is perhaps the loveliest of the seasons. The beauty of blooming daffodils, azaleas, crepe myrtles, tulips, day lilies, and much more is a feast for our eyes. Winter has a certain beauty with a fresh new snow, but pales in comparison to a newly greened tree after a cold barren winter. God gave us seasons and promises that they will continue always. Each season serves its purpose in the cycle of life.
We live in a beautiful area. We often tell people, “We can see the ocean from every window of our house.” I love the ocean views with the coming and going of the tides and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The variety in God’s creation is truly breath-taking.
However, there is one thing that I don’t love on this otherwise beautiful island, and that is dead trees! Maybe I am a glass half-full kind of girl, but when I look at our scenery I cannot overlook the dead trees. If I had the wherewithal, I would cut every last dead tree down and get rid of them. To me, it ruins an otherwise beautiful landscape.
A dead tree is taking up the space where a new tree – one that is actually alive and serving a purpose – could grow. Getting rid of the dead tree could give the living trees room to breathe and flourish. Once disposed of, it can no longer spread its disease. The struggling trees around it would be given a better chance for a healthy existence.
Someone may say, “I love that dead tree. It is beautiful. That is the tree where we once had a tire swing, and would have great fun climbing to the top. Nope, don’t cut that tree down; too many memories. Trees are people too!” Why do we get so attached to dead things? I like the solution I’ve seen on decorating shows when the home-owner can’t let go of old wallpaper that Grandma put up, or the marks on the door frame to mark the kids’ growth. They take a picture and frame it! Even that is questionable as “art,” but it is making progress toward a more updated home. Being attached to stuff is why our homes become outdated and stuffy.
We can easily make a spiritual application from the principle of removing dead things, be it trees or last year’s flowers or leaves. Dead things take up way too much space in our lives blocking our spiritual progress. We hang on to “the things we used to do,” which we shouldn’t being doing any more. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Hanging on to the dead things of our sinful past stunts our growth. “He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” ( Ecclesiastes 3:11) We should let go of the past and let God breathe new life into our being.
Another example for us to consider is old food. You cook a fine meal. Everyone is satisfied, maybe even beyond satisfied, and there is still food leftover. Being the wise steward, you find the right size plastic container and save it for another meal. The plastic container gets shuffled to the back of the refrigerator and is forgotten. Some time later you repeat that meal, starting with fresh ingredients. The plastic container containing the leftovers from the last time you fixed this dish, suddenly appears. You have a choice: add the old (and perhaps moldy) food to the new dish, or you can throw it away. If you reuse the old with the new, you might reason that you hate to be wasteful. However, if no one eats the new dish because they see mold, you will have to waste many more ingredients. If you bravely eat the half old/half new dish, people may get sick and “waste” all of what they just ate in an undesirable fashion. They may never want to see that dish again! What could have been a lovely meal becomes an evening of regret and pain.
We need to cut out the deadness in our Christian lives. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:7, 10) Get rid of those ugly dead trees!