Thursday, August 15, 2013

Resisting What Is Best

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice..."
I Samuel 15:22

A man stood in our yard talking to Kevin.

"The guy says we need to have that tree cut back...
the one out there by the fence that Uncle Orville and Aunt Joyce gave us 
when they first moved here",
Kevin told me as he walked inside.

"But, I don't want to have it trimmed.
I love that tree!" 
I wailed.

"I know.
But, he said they've been having power outages in our area,
and they want to make sure none of the branches are causing a problem.
He'll be back next week to see what we decided to do."

I made up my mind right then and there, that when he came back,
I was going to let him know that he was not going to take our tree!
After all, we hadn't had any power outages.
Surely other people's trees were the cause of their problems.
Not our tree.

There were memories attached to that tree.
Zachary used to climb it.

He and his dogs have spent happy times in and around it.
They have had adventures there.

I have a hard time letting things go....
maybe you've figured that out by now.

I am sentimentally-challenged. :~)

The next week came and went,
and the guy never came back.

I just figured they had resolved the issue, 
and felt thankful that we were off the hook.
I was thrilled.

Fast forward to the end of May....and summer storms.

Zach and I were headed to a friend's birthday party one evening,
enjoying the drive down a country road, when the cell phone rang.

It was Kevin.

"I'm having a hard time getting ready for work.
The electric is out."

"Oh, no!  I wonder what happened?"

"It just went out.
I called and reported it.
Hopefully, they'll send somebody out soon."

Thank the Lord, they did.
They found the blown fuse in the transformer,
fixed it, and we were back in business.

End of discussion.....right?


That was only the beginning.
For the next several weeks, 
we experienced right after the other.

It was usually during times of high wind.
Sometimes, we would actually hear the fuse blow in the transformer....
right next to the tree.

Yeah, that tree.

Once we returned from a trip, only to walk in to a stifling, hot house,
with no A/C,
and stuff melting in our freezer.
We never did find out exactly how long the electric had been off.

It became quite a nuisance....and inconvenience.
More than that, I began to panic,
knowing Kevin was getting closer and closer to being able to work full-time from home,
and realizing this could create a real problem if it kept happening.

Still, I didn't even want to consider the thought....
of having to cut that tree.

One day, LD and Mark were outside working on a building project for us,
when the skies above overshadowed, and a storm came up out of nowhere.

You guessed it.
LD and Mark heard the loud boom,
and LD saw...firsthand....what caused it.

"Cheryl, those tree limbs are blowin' in the wind,
whippin' back, and hitting that transformer.
That's what is making your electric go off.
You might wanna get that tree cut back."

"I know."

I knew what we should do.
But, I didn't want to do what we should do.

That tree had a birdfeeder that LD built for Kevin hanging from one of the branches
that swooped out over the side of our driveway.
And another pretty feeder that my niece, Kristen, bought him for his birthday.
And another one that we had picked out together.

That tree was special.

Aren't they all?

I have a real problem seeing trees cut down.
It just really goes against the grain.

Besides, this one was extra-special, 
because of who gave it to us.

Aunt Joyce and Uncle Orville

I called the electric company.
Same thing, different storm.

I knew we should just go ahead and trim the tree,
but I kept hoping, by some miracle,
that we would find another solution...
and never have to do it.

It's called denial.

One day, I walked outside through the garage
to find a man from the electric company standing on the other side of our fence....
staring up at our tree.

I walked over to speak with him.

"I'll go ahead and submit a work order for them to come out and trim that tree for you."

I stood there and wanted to resist.
Wanted to tell him no.
I knew I shouldn't.
Knew I really couldn't stall any longer.

At last, I stubborn will.

"Okay.  Go ahead."

I finally gave in to what I knew was best all along.

The guys came out in their Asplundh truck,
with the mulcher, wood-chipper thing attached to the back.

Kevin went out to talk to them and came back in with worse news.

"They're not only going to trim that tree,
they're cutting it all the way down."

"To the ground???" I moaned.

"Yeah, they have to."

"But, why?"

"Because if they don't, it will just grow back,
and they'll have to come back out and deal with it again in a year.
It has to go, honey."

I walked down the hall to find Zach.

"If you want to say good-bye to our tree, 
you better hurry.
They're cutting it down."

A child after mine own heart,
he is almost as sentimental as I am.  

The three of us stood on our front porch and watched the whole, painful process.




Just gone.
The only thing left are the memories....several pictures.....and the stump.

The guy cut as close to the ground as he could with his chainsaw,
but there is still a stump.

A stark reminder...of what used to be.

I miss the beautiful shade it provided.
I miss the privacy it afforded, in that little corner of our front yard.

There was a time when that tree was not tall enough to cause a problem.

I remember a day when the branches didn't reach high enough to touch the transformer.

Then came the day, when problems developed.
We were told about it.
Given fair warning.
But, I didn't think it was all that serious.
Not until it started affecting us...that is.

Then it became personal.
Yet, I rebelled.
I kept holding on...hoping the storms would stop.
Hoping the wind would blow the other direction.
Hoping we wouldn't have to do what I knew deep in my heart
we should do.

Resisting what was best.

How often do we do that?
In life, I mean?

God sends little, subtle warnings.
He brings to our attention that we have a situation that holds potential to create problems for us.
He lets us know that a change needs to take place.
Things aren't so bad, at first....
so we try to ignore the problem....
and His still, small voice.
As the problem continues, it gets worse.
To the point that, one day He has attracted our full-blown attention.

We rebel.
We refuse.
We hope for a miracle....
for an easier solution....
than to do what God suggests.

An easy way out never appears.
We are backed into a corner.
Obviously, things are not going to change...
until we do what we know we should have done in the first place....
when God first brought it to our attention.

Most problems start out small....
then they escalate as we neglect to fix them.

Just like the cherished tree.

It's funny, but we haven't had a problem since they cut it down.

Had I given the beginning....
I could have saved us some miserable times.
We could have enjoyed uninterrupted A/C...
and other modern conveniences.

It is utter foolishness to ignore God's warnings.
If He says there is danger up ahead and we need to take an alternate path,
we would do well to listen.

He sees the end from the beginning.
He absolutely knows what is best.

Remember, Judas?
The one who sold out for 30 pieces of silver and betrayed Jesus
by leading His enemies to Him that fateful night?

Judas had a spiritual need.
Deep inside his spirit,
he had a problem.
He knew it.
It had reared its ugly head in the past and been brought to his attention.

He had manifested disdain when Mary poured the alabaster box full of oil
over Jesus' feet and allowed it to spill its beautiful fragrance into the room.
Her heart was full of worship.
Judas, one of the of Jesus' chosen disciples...did not like what Mary did,
because his heart was full of greed.
You can read the whole story in John 12:1-8.

"Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, 

and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."

Judas chose to ignore the warning signs.
He, one of the 12 who walked most intimately with God in the flesh,
never asked Him for deliverance.
He had every opportunity to get confess and be cleansed of his greed....
before it led to bigger, more serious problems.

He lived life in denial...pretending to be something he never was.
He never paid attention to the red flags.
His failure to take heed and deal with his problem eventually cost him his life....
but even more tragic, it doomed him to an eternity apart from the One he claimed to serve.

Change is never easy.
I cringe every time I look in the direction of the missing tree.
I miss it being there.
Standing tall and strong...against the sky.
But, having it there was not in our best interest.
Trimming it would have only provided a temporary solution to a perpetual problem.

It had to come down....all the way.

Just like things in our lives that are detrimental to our spiritual welfare.
There are things we should just let go of.
Things that will never be good for us.
Things that should go sooner rather than later.
Things that should be completely eliminated....
because they will always cause us trouble.
Unfortunately, little problems turn into big problems,
and trouble multiplies and becomes more serious as time goes by.

God is faithful to point out our spiritual needs.
He cares about us making Heaven.
He gives us this life to prepare....for the life to come.

It would save us a lot of misery to just mind God.
In the beginning.
The minute He brings the problem to our attention.

Deep down, we all know it is true.

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