I seriously love trees. In fact, forested landscapes are on the top of the list of my favorites. I remember the thrill of exploring the woods as a youngster at Girl Scout camp, and conquering that amazing (although not altogether safe) tree house in our neighborhood. At this writing (July), the leaves are fully out and lush green, and our eldest just did a preschool unit on trees with our two-year-old granddaughter. The sooner she learns that trees are our friends, the better!
God evidently thinks so, too. As the recently Hebrew nation approaches the Promised Land, I find His instructions interesting:
“When you are attacking a town and the war drags on, you must not cut down the trees with your axes. You may eat the fruit, but do not cut down the trees… You may only cut down trees that you know are not valuable for food. Use them to make the equipment you need to attack the enemy town until it falls.”
This is more than just a lesson in ecology. It seems there is information here that is also quite relevant in bouts with my main enemy as well—
- I tend to be spiritually impatient. Sometimes the fight seems interminable, as I continue to pray for loved ones, or I battle personal hang-ups and habits. It can become exceedingly tempting to indiscriminately waste precious resources of time and emotional energy, thinking I can somehow “speed up” God’s process. However, God calls me to (and will provide) “patient endurance” as I trustingly listen for whatever my next step in His work is to be.
- One thing I can do, must do, during the battle we call life, is to remove excess baggage. Whatever is producing usable fruit, keep it. Whatever is not, cut it down, and recycle what I can for more effective use. For me, the following trees must be cut down and fashioned into more productive weaponry:
***Time spent worrying (which as one wise person wrote, is a very real type of meditation!) needs to changed into time spent praising and thanking God Almighty for His on-going interventions, most of which I can’t even see.
***My attempts to change someone into “my image” of God needs to be changed into seeing the person as God sees them, with their special gifts and talents and calling, and encourage those elements as God works on the rest.
***Here’s a biggie. Guilt. No, wait, not guilt, because Jesus has taken care of that. Instead, it’s accurately called “guilt feelings”, and we all know how reliable our emotions are… I tend to feel guilt when I think of past mistakes and missed opportunities. (Any parent who hasn’t wrestled with this one at least a little may need some help in a different way!) Better to apply God’s grace trustingly to our past and leave the future in His creative hands.
I rejoice that, ecology aside, nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy.
Deuteronomy 20:19, 20 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.