There was a huge gum tree on our place that had clearly been there for decades. It had one large base but then split into three large separate ‘trunks’ about two meters off the ground as it headed skyward. Its branches were huge and it would shed its bark depending on the season we had in terms of rainfall.
When we first moved to the farm years ago, the six people in our family were packed into a one-bedroom cottage. Beds were lined up around the walls of the lounge room, with all of our worldly possessions packed to the roof, and taking up all of the remaining floor space. To get to our bed we had to literally climb over each of the kid’s beds. It was like a quilted highway, with kids arms and legs needing to be avoided as you clambered over each of the bedheads. But as we lay on our bed which was under a large window, we would look out at that tree in the moonlight. It was spectacularly beautiful.
Our kid’s built cubbyhouses in the fork of that tree. They climbed over every inch of its branches, and on the odd occasion fell off onto the grass below. And for years our grandkids have clambered over the same branches and added to the platform from which they could spy on the world around them. It was a very special part of our family as our kids grew up. There are a lot of great memories and a few trips to the hospital associated with that tree.
A couple of years ago it started to drop branches. I’m not talking about small branches blown down in the wind. Huge branches that would crash to the ground with that kind of ‘thud’ that would shake the house. It became increasingly dangerous and despite our hope that it was possibly just a rogue branch or two, it proved not to be the case. The tree had become a major problem.
As you do when you live on a farm, we hatched a plan to deal with it. And so after one particular stormy night when a huge branch had come down we got the tractor! Now, I’ve been using tractors for years. What that really means is I have been repeating my mistakes for a long time.
Now the branch was about 30cm round at the largest point, and maybe 6m long. It was wedged on its end, and almost vertical and leaning up against the other branches of the main trunk. It looked like an easy job, but the trick was that it had wedged itself in a fork of one of the other branches. Not to worry, we’ll just chuck a chain on it, attach it to the bucket, and we’ll pull it out! What could possibly go wrong! After all, this tree was family, and who could hurt another member of the family?
Plans sometimes go a little astray!
My neighbour, who is the district tractor expert, volunteered to drive the tractor. Engine revs climb, slack is taken up, clutch is dumped. Boy, that branch was stuck tight. So much so that when the branch did come, it brought with it half of the rest of the tree. The whole side of that massive tree crashed and graunched and ripped its way to the ground. We all just kind of stood there in shock! Old mate on the tractor just stared at us, mouth open and unsure exactly what to say. There was a kind of silent shock, ‘Oh, we didn’t think that was going to happen’! Then all of us just burst out laughing! We stopped shortly after my wife arrived!! She explained how we could have all died, called us some very hurtful names, and stormed off….! She was quite right, of course. It had been a very close call.
We convince ourselves we know what we are doing. We rely on the fact that we have control of our circumstances. We even have these crazy moments when we think we know what tomorrow is going to be like, and we pin our deluded security to the tail of a donkey hoping it won’t turn out to be a Mexican piñata.
Knowing the world was hanging by a thread, God sent His Son Jesus to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. To pay a price that was so big that even if we wanted to pay it we couldn’t. To secure a ‘tomorrow’ for us that is so secure nothing that happens tomorrow can hijack it, crush it or wreck it, no matter what! I don’t know about you, but I want to feel like I deserve it. Or at the very least earnt part of it by being amazing at something! But the truth is, our only part in being saved and securing our tomorrow, is to accept what God has done for us.
It blows me away every time I think about it.
2020 has proven we are not in control. If no other lesson is to be learnt from this year it must surely be that. If we thought we knew what ‘tomorrow’ was going to look like in January this year, then the frailty of our control has been exposed. But nothing that happened was unknown to God.
I trust you will have a joyful, blessed and relaxing Christmas. I pray it will be a time when you enjoy family and friends and know God’s richest blessing.
Be safe and well, and we shall see you all in the New Year. No matter what it contains, God has got it!