"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree:As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out,
you know that summer is near."
~ Matthew 24:32; Luke 21:29,30
There is a maple tree up the street from me that is the most glorious shade of red in the fall. It is absolutely gorgeous. I had taken the fall colors for granted (shame on me!) and had never really explored them until a artsy girlfriend moved to Alaska and asked me to take photos of the leaves for her. She said Alaska had two color seasons, unlike the area in which we lived and she missed the resplendent colors of autumn.
Here was a God-gift -- a wonderful palette of colors to explore and one in which I was remiss to thank him for. I began by cruising up and down the street, treasure-hunting, inspecting the ground like a nut and gathering up the most interesting leaves I could find, bringing them home and scanning them. I collected a whole series of them to send to my friend, even getting creative with their arrangement. It was the most fun!
I've often thought of trees since then and wondered why God created them. He must have had fun doing it since there are so many different kinds, including the family tree! There are people who say "Save the Whales," but I say "Save the Trees." I never thought of myself as a tree-hugger until I read what trees do -- like taking in the carbon dioxide we exhale and giving off the oxygen we inhale. As a person with asthma, I can appreciate any fresh air I can breathe. Not to mention the other things that trees provide which we would miss if they suddenly disappeared -- bark (for baskets, clothing, cork, river transportation); climate control (provides cooling shade, holds the soil, windbreaks); fibers (chair strapping, rope); food (drink, fruit, honey, maple syrup, spices, nuts, oil); fuel (oil, firewood); sap (jewelry, rubber for rubber stamps, incense); wood (carved décor, the cross; furniture, paper, sawdust, shelter, toothpicks, transportation); etc.. Trees are also a renewable resource, meaning if you plant them, they will grow.
Did you know there are at least thirty kinds of trees named in the Bible? When we were homeschooling our son, we made trees a unit study and one of the verses he had for handwriting practice was "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalms 1:1-3). We took our concordance down from our library shelves and he read about trees in the first Book of the Bible to the last -- "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:15-17) to "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14).
Our son made a tree project notebook in which he placed samples of tree leaves sandwiched between pieces of clear contact paper with sticker label identification. At the time, we had eleven trees in our yard and various others at his grandparents' homes, so he had plenty to identify. We visited our local conservation station and saw samples of tree products from our state. Did you know Indians used the hardwood from the Osage Orange tree to make their bows and arrows?
In closing, I want to end with one of our former pastor's favorite verses. It is found in Isaiah, chapter 55, verse 12 = "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
1. I think it's wonderful that God worked out all the things people needed during his days of creation and crafted them for us. Praise God for his goodness to us!
2. I thank Him for watching over family members recently -- traveling ones, ones who've had surgery, and our son, who got a finger mashed at work between metal press rollers. At least he didn't lose the end of it, just some skin.
3. I thank God for the freedom that I have to pray for our children (sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, students; young adults) as they learn from the Board of Education in the School of Hard Knocks. It's tough to stand by as a parent (or teacher/Titus elder) and watch them wise up that way, but sometimes it's the only recourse we have when they stubbornly refuse to listen to us.
4. I thank God for our District Superintendent and for his preaching visit to our church. May God continue to bless him with strength as he governs our district with wisdom and grace. May God give him daily joys and the support of prayer warriors, to guard against and alleviate the troubles that orbits spiritual leadership.
5. I'm so thankful that my mammogram test results came back negative. Woo Hoo!
Postscript: I found a wonderful quote that fits right in with this post, so I'm adding it in:
"There is a very close relationship between appreciating beauty and worshipping. In fact, it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. As long as appreciation of beauty is not substituted for worship, we need not worry, for beauty will enhance and add to the worship. The two experiences need not be separated.