Monthly Archives: July 2013

Our Gallant Trees


The other day I was walking with a friend through our grove of trees to the stream at the back of our property. As his eyes followed the trunks of several of our giants to its crown high above, he exclaimed, “Wow, these are magnificent! Is that another white pine? Look at that cluster of cedars!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter having lived here for eight years or so, seeing our grove of mature trees through the eyes of a visitor brought back some of the excitement I felt when we first bought the place. Our house is nestled in a lawn and garden surrounded by a grove of mature trees: sugar maple, beech, red oak, white pine, hemlock, ironwood, cedar. The trees must be 60 or 70 years old or more.

I love these trees, not just because I studied forestry as an undergraduate and can see their value in board feet of lumber, but because they are magnificent in their own right. And because they reflect the Creator who made them. I feel quite poignant about them, now that we have the property up for sale and plan to move into town. Leaving this spot that has inspired scores of blogs will be bittersweet. Fortunately, I’ll carry memories and the determination to live out the lessons they teach.

 God of the gallant trees,
Give to us fortitude;
Give as thou givest to these
Valorous hardihood.Back yard with oak, pine
We are the trees of thy planting O God,
We are the trees of thy wood.

Now let the life-sap run
Clean through our every vein.
Perfect what thou hast begun,
God of the sun and rain,
Thou who dost measure the weight of the wind,
Fit us for stress and for strain.
(Amy Carmichael)

As these trees depend on God for sun and rain, so may I depend on the Lord to sustain my spiritual life through the indwelling Holy Spirit. May I develop fortitude to face patiently and quietly the stresses of life. May I bend beneath trials and troubles but not break.

“God is our refuge and strength”(Ps. 46:1) “Therefore my dear brothers stand firm. Let nothing move you”(1 Cor. 15:58). “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph. 3:16).


Shelter From Storms

Wisely, birds build their nests in sheltered places. Our robins build their nests either on the timbers beneath our deck or on a gable sheltered by our roof. Wrens chose to build theirs in a dense tangle of vines beneath an overhang on house.

Birds prepare for the eventuality of storms. Terrible storms—hurricanes, tornadoes, and torrential rains—have batRobins nesttered much of the world this year. Nothing could prepare Toronto this past weekend for the historic torrents of rain that flooded the whole city. But we can learn from storms. When Hurricane Hazel blasted Ontario in 1954 and flooded the Humber River valley, 81 people lost their lives and there was 137 million dollars in property damage. As a result municipalities on river valleys in Ontario passed legislation banning the building of homes on most river valleys and flood plains.

Experience tells us that it is foolish to build on a flood plain, or as Jesus warned, on sand. It is just as foolish to be unprepared for the emotional and spiritual storms that will inevitably batter our lives.

Our friends or family may become for us the help and encouragement we need during times of trial or pain. And when friends and family need us, we should provide the same support to them. We should also express concern and offer practical help to suffering neighbours.

Robins NestBut in a fallen world where selfishness reigns, where misunderstandings abound, and where most seem oblivious to the pain we feel inside, there is one place where we can always find shelter. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune may fly all around us. We may be tested and tried beyond our limits. No one may hear our silent cry for help—but One Person. But that One is always attentive to our cries.

The book of Psalms abundantly testifies to that reality. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him [the Son]” (Psalm 2:12). “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you”(Psalm 7:1). “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble”(Psalm 8:9). “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”(Psalm 18:2). Ira Sankey put this truth to music;

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A shelter in the time of storm.

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land…a shelter in the time of storm.

Do we find ourselves assailed by storms of pain or doubt, discouragement or worry? Let’s find refuge in the arms of Jesus.

Like the Primrose – Loving Light, Hating Darkness

Our yellow evening primrose, like several flowers in our garden closes as the night approaches and opens in the morning with the sun. The primrose reminds me of the sensitivity Christians should have toward godliness and Evening Primrosethe revulsion we should express for evil.

In Scriptural imagery, God is light and in Him is no darkness. (See Ps. 27:1, Ps. 84:11). Light signifies the utter holiness of God and the standards He calls us to live up to; a life of purity, holiness and goodness. By contrast, darkness signifies evil, sin, disobedience, and moral corruption of any kind.

Unfortunately, from birth, we have a proclivity to embrace that which is dark and sinful. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil”(John 3:19).

Jesus came as a light shining in darkness to destroy the works of darkness and call people to walk in the light. Aged Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms and quoted Isaiah; “My eyes have seen your salvation…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel”(Luke 2:30,32).

How do we, like the primrose, develop a sensitivity that distinguishes light from darkness? With the primrose this is natural. With us it is unnatural. So first, as Jesus said, we must be born again, made new, delivered from bondage to darkness. (See John 3) Then secondly, we must commit ourselves to absolute obedience to God’s principles. Those principles define holiness. Thirdly, we must fill our minds with those righteous principles through daily meditation on God’s Word. As we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures and daily apply what we learn, the Holy Spirit trains us to discern good and evil. He retrains our corrupted consciences to express alarm in the presence of evil.

Evening primroseOur cultures bombard us with propaganda that distorts good and evil. So often evil is proclaimed as if it was something wonderful; drinking, free love, gambling, borrowing beyond our capacity to repay–for example. To withstand the flood of moral turpitude inundating our countries, we desperately need to become hyper-sensitive to good and evil. Popular or not, may God help us to love the light and hate the darkness.