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The View From Above

I spent my New Year holiday working to stave off encroaching madness and it turned out far more effective than I hoped. The cause of my distress was very specific: The wonderful American Sweetgum tree in our front yard. We love this tree for its perfect location, pleasing shape and overall vitality. In the fall, this tree becomes the pride of the neighborhood as the leaves turn color and call to mind God’s pillar of fire that led Israel in the desert.

However, the beauty of the Sweetgum is heavily offset by the menacing seedpods. They grow like a cluster of green, prickly, oversized grapes which then turn brown and hard in the fall to release their cargo of seed. Throughout the winter these cluster bombs drop and make it look like our yard is the favorite location for all the neighborhood dogs to come and do their business. But as unsightly as they are, they’re a terror to bare feet. They’re also not easy to clean up as the spiny pods act like a natural Velcro to the grass.

When we first bought the house almost 30 years ago, the pods were a minor nuisance. But our dear Sweetgum is now 60 feet tall and produces these grapes of wrath by the thousands. I finally snapped and decided something had to change. I didn’t want to get rid of the tree entirely, but I resolved to rent a lift and give it a serious haircut. December 31 was the appointed day and I am happy to say our Sweetgum looks nice and trim and less than half its former size.

The JLG 450 lift I rented is due to be picked up today and I was a little wistful this morning when I said goodbye to it. I know it sounds weird, but it’s a great machine, and you tend to bond when you’re 50 feet in the air and your life depends on it.

However, just as I was giving it a farewell pat, I turned and saw the spectacular sunrise God was painting. I immediately decided there was time for one more ride. What a glorious feeling to slowly rise in the chilly air, frost on every roof and the glow of lights as people were getting ready for the day. Up above all but the tallest trees, I could see the layout of our neighborhood with the park in the middle. I thought of the many people I know after 30 years in the same house and the many needs for the grace of Jesus represented down below. I imagined God looking down at us and the view made me want to look at all the needs with more of his heart and mind. I am often so engaged in battling the prickly pods that it becomes all I can see. What a treat to raise my eyes to one more portrait of glory, a clear reminder that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. This is my Father’s world, the battle is not done. Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one. 

Pastor Toby

Categories: Evergreen Connection