With Jesus as Lord, we share His Love
Photo of the moment
October 2019

devotional image
. . . for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light."
Ephesians 4:14

Picture Tree

Sometimes we don't see what's right in front of us. I was at a meeting in a big multi-purpose room recently. The meeting hadn't started yet, so people were still milling around talking, grabbing coffee, and setting things up for the day. The room was noisy as only cavernous, high-ceilinged rooms can be. I was scanning the faces of the crowd around the sprawling room, looking for someone I needed to talk to. The woman beside me saw me searching and asked who I was looking for. I told her and she said, "That's easy. She's right here." Turns out, the person I'd been looking for was standing at the table right in front of me. By looking far and wide, I'd overlooked her. Ugh. How embarrassing!

But sometimes we actually can't see what's right in front of us, or at least not the whole picture. The huge silver maple shading our house and front deck has been our Picture Tree for the 20+ years we've lived here. Birthdays, first and last days of school, visits from out of town family members, new driver's licenses, graduations, engagements, marriages, new babies, every momentous family occasion imaginable, has called for a picture by the Picture Tree. This huge tree is in so many family photos it's almost like a member of the family--a patriarch, of sorts. And old enough to be one, too!  At its base, just above the root flare, the trunk measured 16' 10" and its crown towered far above the peak of the roof of our two-story farmhouse. A giant of a tree! The tree service guy, even taking into account how quickly soft maples grow, estimated the tree's age to be more than a hundred years.

During a fierce storm this summer, friends had a huge red oak tree crash down on their house causing thousands of dollars' worth of damage, though thankfully, no personal injuries. Their experience helped us begin to face the truth about our silver maple. After all, we knew that the small, central bole was hollow because the red squirrels scurrying up and down inside it made that bole shiver and shake. We also knew that this opening into the heart of the tree was allowing water in--never a good thing. In addition, the increased woodpecker activity this summer let us know that the tree had become infested with the insects that feed on rotting wood. On our way home from church one Sunday, Mark and I were talking about the need to set sentimentality aside and have the tree taken down. While Mark was sitting on the deck shortly after our arrival at home, a huge limb suddenly dropped out of the tree and hit the ground in front of him. There hadn't been even a breath of wind. It was time.

When the day arrived, I was emotional and having second thoughts. (There may have been tears. Okay. There were tears.) Hearing the chainsaw buzz, and sections of the tree thud to the ground all day with a sound that made me think of cannonballs hitting a battlefield didn't help. Our stout farmhouse on its stone foundation reverberated with each impact. It felt like a war zone.

However, once the limbs were down and that huge trunk was finally severed from its base, it became obvious that we'd made the right decision. The trunk was a shell filled with black rot. We'd walked by that tree every day for years, but hadn't been able to see the hazard that was right in front of us until it was opened to the light of day.

Thank you, Lord, for protecting our family and friends!

The same thing can happen in any area of our lives. Sometimes, through hurry or carelessness, we fail to see the obvious. Sometimes, though we're looking closely at a thing day after day, we aren't able to see the heart of the matter. Sometimes our failure to see is just embarrassing; other times it can be downright hazardous. But there is One who knows the whole truth about every situation. We don't have to stay in darkness.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. --John 8:12

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. --John 12:46

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. --John 14:26

Lord, give me the light to see what's right in front of me, and show me the things you want me to see that are hidden from view. Help me be willing to prune what needs to be pruned so I can be pleasing to you.

Daye Phillippo

October 2019