Why did the local Council decide to plant a gum tree in the street outside our house? Imagine the worker digging the hole for its new home, carefully placing it in there, back-filling, tamping it down and watering it. Did he wonder how it might look in twenty-five years?
Yes, it would grow tall and strong, create a beautiful picture…and reach the powerlines. We all know what happens to street trees when that occurs; we’ve seen their gaunt branches uglifying the roads! And the shade it would shed on the hot pavement might have seemed a good idea at the time, but had anyone thought that it was planted on a bend and no-one would be brave enough to park beneath it’s spreading branches in the summer? And what about the nutrients this little tree would need to grow to its full potential?
Not far from the tree, a border of roses lined our driveway when we bought the house. Gangly and unkempt, they needed attention. Most are still there, redeemed by their beautiful perfume. Others have been replaced. We also planted some pretty blue pansies around the letterbox. They looked lovely, but it wasn’t long before they bowed their heads and prayed for help; the gum had robbed the soil of all they needed for growth. Maurie was going to throw them out, but I pleaded for their lives, so he dug them up and handed them over to me.
I took them to the back of the house and carefully planted them in the rich soil by the back door where I could easily water, weed and watch them. Now they’re a lovely sight! What large flowers they’ve produced and how often visitors comment on their beauty!
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this story! Most of you might be able to find a reason for it yourselves, especially if you read this Blog regularly and feel you know me! I could write about the way God sometimes transplants us to new places. And we could remind ourselves of the malnourished soil in the parable that Jesus told about the Sower. Or I could tell myself that the pansies shouldn’t have been put by that large tree in the first place. There are lots of truths we can glean from this tale, but it’s not really about the pansies. My problem’s with the tree!
I could ask the Council to remove it and plant something more suitable, but they’d probably say it was ‘Heritage-Listed’, or would cost too much to cut down. Every day I could look at it and wish it were gone. I could spend valuable thinking-time on the Council’s lack of forethought, or waste breath on telling people how much it annoys me. Or write about it in here!! So what am I learning from this tree?
The reason I notice annoying things in my life is because God knows what a lot I can learn from them. They’re opportunities to grow beside a problem. Yes, that’s it for me! I’m letting it rob the soil in my life. I need to focus on the good. Here’s how the Message Bible puts it:
Summing it all up friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse… Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. – Philippians 4: 8,9
Isn’t that a beautiful solution? What a reward! God working us into his harmonies!