Saturday, January 26, 2013


 "...AND NOW AM OLD!?"

It's difficult for children to realize that their parents or their grandparents were ever young like themselves. It's even hard for me to remember how I felt when I was young. I'm still the same person as I was in my youth, but sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that I'm one of "the elderly" now.

I can understand how King David must have felt when he looked in his mirror and possibly blinked, “I have been young and now am old....” (Psalm 37:25) I too feel that shock! When did that happen?

Nevertheless, I know that God has purposely ordained the changing seasons in nature and in life. He offers me spiritual insights to explore. The gnarled, weathered, bare branches of an old oak tree have lessons to teach me. It stands courageously through the harshness of winter stripped of its leaves, shivering in the wind, unable to hug itself with the luxurious green leaves of high summer. I too am chronologically in the winter of my life. Sometimes winters are very long; sometimes they are short.

My friend Marion emailed me today comparing weather news between Ohio and Virginia: “My snow is deeper than your snow!” She wrote, 

“Winter is my favorite season because of crisp, fresh, cold air, and the beautiful white carpet of snow the Lord spreads everywhere. I experience a calming, hushed silence as I walk in my snowy woods. I pray as I walk. And I love to gaze at the outline of the bare branches, how they turn this way and that but always reach heavenward. Those are things you don't notice in summer when leaves obscure the skeletons of the branches. I actually cut branches in the winter and bring them inside placing them in vases around my home. I'm fascinated to study the angles and twists. There is such beauty in their temporary bareness. They seem to speak to me of God's sure promise that spring will come again. They remind me to trust my Heavenly Father who is working even now in what appears to my eyes as dead and devoid of color. God knows what He's doing inside those trees, those bare limbs in winter—and I trust His Providence.” 

Bareness is not barrenness. The bare branches are not dead. God has planned for their safety and protection. Deep within the trunk of the oak tree the sap is still flowing and the bare branches remain connected to the trunk, abiding in the trunk. To everything there is a time and season. God has planned that the leaves should fall off in the autumn so that the tree could withstand the strong, fierce blasts of gale winds that would otherwise topple it. The winter hurricane winds blow right through the branches without harm to the tree. If the branches were still covered with leaves, the heavy snow and ice accumulating on them would cause them to break with the weight. Yes, God knows what He's doing inside those trees and with those bare branches. They will live to bear leaves again and the fruit trees will bear fruit in their season.

The angles and twists of my bare branches in my advanced age may now be visible to others in this winter season of my life. But they give witness to the greatness of God's faithfulness to me through the years. He is even now my Protector from the stormy blasts that may come upon me because of the fragility of my bare branches. No matter how they seem to twist and turn, they continue to point heavenward to thank God for His “goodness and mercy that follows me all the days of my life.” 

God is my Keeper. In winter as in the other seasons of my life, if I keep abiding in the trunk, “in Christ,” and He abides in me, I will stay alive in Him and will bear leaves and fruit in His appointed season.

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