Apr 272016

While on a recent hike, I saw an old tree clinging to a cliff.  Really it was the remains of a tree, since it had obviously died some time ago.  At first I was inspired by the beauty, then I thought about the fact that it was just the remains of a dead tree.  The issue wasn’t really the tree, it was the location.  Had the tree lived and died somewhere else, leaving such a scrawny carcass of a tree, it would have been underwhelming for sure.

A tree that grew on a cliff

A tree that grew on a cliff

The real splendor of this little tree was not the beauty of its withered remains, but the testimony of those lifeless crooked limbs.  A weathered wooden testament of a life lived in a difficult place.  A life lived where cold winds whipped over a rugged landscape.  A life lived where every ounce of growth had to be carefully rationed between leaves reaching for the sun and roots clinging to any small crack or crevice in the rock.

If this dead tree had been somewhere in the middle of the forest, I would most likely have never noticed it, but having grown in the rugged, difficult place, it left a legacy of beauty.  The Bible says that trials make us better people.  I’m sure it’s true, even though if given the choice, I would prefer not to grow on the difficult, rocky cliff.

Sep 162014

Yesterday afternoon, as I drove west on the interstate, the setting sun glared in my eyes.  There were a few clouds just below on the horizon, but the sun was still too high for them to provide any protection for my tired, squinting eyes.  It was hard to focus on the road.

I thought about how we sometimes use the expression  “clouds on the horizon” to mean trouble ahead, and wondered if maybe we were being a bit too harsh to the clouds.  A few minutes later, the sun dropped a little lower and the clouds did their work.  Instead of tired eyes squinting into a harsh, bright sun, my eyes were now feasting on the beauty of a glorious sunset.  The clouds diffused the overpowering sun and erupted in a colorful chorus of praise to the Creator.  I praised Him too.  A few clouds made the view of my westward journey an intimate treasure.

I woke this morning thinking about what I might learn from the clouds.  The simple lesson came through.  And so I pray this morning, that God will send just enough clouds in my life to keep me focused on the road.  And that He will use those clouds to make my life a thing of beauty, for His glory.

Feb 132014
Our apple tree covered in snow

Our apple tree covered in snow

The view out my window this morning is beautiful. Last night while I slept warm in my bed, yesterday’s day of freezing rain, ice, and sleet gave way to a sprinkling of snow. The ice on the trees provided a perfect place for the snow to rest. Now every limb of our apple tree is enrobed in perfect white. As I stare at the site, my eyes feast on a rare and wonderful winter celebration.  But the tree . . . the tree feels only a cold and heavy burden.

Aug 202010

A Dead Butterfly

A Live Moth

There were two bugs in our house this morning. Well, maybe even more than two, but two that I noticed. One was a dead butterfly someone had brought in and laid on the counter. The other was a live moth that most likely flew right on in, uninvited. 

Both were in the kitchen when I got up.  The butterfly was beautiful.  The moth was alive. I thought to myself, “I’d rather be the moth.”
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
    – Mathew 23:27