Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Broken Limb and the Insignificant Branch

I was going to write this glorious life application blog about the giant tree that grows up against the fence of my backyard.  From the viewpoint of my garden I noticed there was an enormous, broken Y-shaped limb, hanging just perfectly from a small, thin branch that was growing from the trunk of the tree.

Crazy thing was - when I went out there tonight and was telling the girls that are helping to plan the retreat about this small insignificant branch that was holding up so much weight, I realized the branch that was holding the limb was actually a part of another piece of broken tree, and it was hanging on to a tangle of other broken branches - and further, while the broken limb appeared to be suspended in thin air, waiting to fall to certain destruction, turns out, it wasn't broken at all, it was just twisted and sad.

See, my first post was going to be about the weight that we can hold when we find our strength from the trunk of the tree; I hadn't published it last night because I was just finishing up the end - where I was having a bit of trouble reconciling what would happen to both the limb and the branch if the right storm came along, and I didn't want to let this life application die.  I assumed sitting on it for one more day would help shed the light.

And, I was right, only in my pause, I found something different. 
That tree in my backyard, is a hot mess.  It has so many broken branches and twisted branches, and broken limbs supporting broken twisted branches, I cannot untangle all of it.  And, with every wind storm, there are mounds of small twigs and larger sticks - scattered all over my yard - proving that it's not just the biggest parts of the tree that are in trouble.

**I feel like I should warn you that as you continue to read, you are going to want to not think metaphorically about the tree, and you will be tempted to stop considering the life application and instead focus on the practical reality that I really need to call a tree person to my house to take care of all of the decay before someone gets hurt.  And while I see your point, can you also see mine....even that is a life application....stay focused people.**

Then, tonight, I saw it.  I am not the broken limb supported by a small branch, waiting for the right storm to send me to the ground. Nor am I the small branch, in the right place at the right time. Instead, I am all of it; the knotted branches, the strong branches, the broken branches.

The soil, the sun, the air, the life around the tree; these are keeping that tree alive.  And though that tree needs some serious pruning, so it doesn't cause some serious danger (told you it was a life application)  that tree is giving life and shelter and beauty to the world. 

It's mess is so tangled in some places that you can't make out what is alive and what is dead.  In some of its places, the strongest limbs and the broken limbs are working together to create a whole support system for the rest of them.  In other places, there is brand new life growing - sometimes growing from where the weaker branches broke off in the storm.

To think, I almost wrote about the first life application anyways and lied that it was true. --  and missed all of this - this hot mess of life and beauty. 

In case life applications are new to you, let me show you this part: Jesus is our life.  He is the nutrient in the soil. He is the oxygen in the air.  He is the vitamins in the sunshine.

We live in this world that can be beautiful, for sure, but also broken and ugly and full of storms.  And, while those storms can cause some damage - we are rooted in Jesus - and the storms sometimes break away stuff that is holding other stuff - but from that, there is room for new life to grow.

And, I haven't even touched on the rain!  How is this God we serve Real??  What God would leave such inspiration in His creation, such love?  What God, with all power, would care that we would find comfort and truth from the trees?  This God is more than I can comprehend, more than I deserve. 

This God, my God, our God - is so in love with us.  Don't you see?  He left evidence of it all around.  Our brokenness does not scare Him; it does not disappoint Him because before we even drew a breath, He drew a tree - and He gave it life - and He called it good. 

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