I love our mostly shady backyard. Over the course of the day, dappled sunshine spreads across, giving light to different areas. However, this filtered effect comes at a price. The tall oaks frequently shed horizontal limbs.
Can you see the “widow maker” hanging in the picture above? When it cracked, it didn’t fall immediately. We watched it hang precariously over the fence for several weeks before we got some help to get that thing down. No damage to the fence. Some limbs dangle for months, especially when they’re caught up in the vines at the back of the property.
But many big limbs fall without warning – even without cause from a storm or high winds. We can often hear the thud as they hit the ground from inside the house. All of them aren’t as big as the one in this picture, but even small limbs can do some damage to the shrubbery or yard furniture below. Thank the Lord, no one has been hit by this falling debris, and our dog has also been safe, so far.
However, the constant risk remains. I think about it when I’m pulling weeds or just walking around the yard. I think about it when someone is mowing the grass. I think about it when my dog is out there.
Like the Sword of Damocles, we know the trees will keep shedding those limbs, and another will eventually drop. It’s a natural process, but I’m not sure why this happens.
How often does this happen? My morning walks often involve picking up the usual small sticks. Once or twice a month we find these large limbs on the ground. They get tossed on a pile, waiting to be burned.
That which is weakened, no longer useful or suitable, diseased, or worthless is often subject to the process of shedding. We shed baby teeth, dry skin, and hair. Snakes shed their skin as they outgrow them, and butterflies shed their protective cocoons. We declutter our homes and get rid of things that are no longer useful to us. We repair and renovate that which is damaged or in need of replacement.
But that which is healthy, in good working order, worthwhile, necessary, or valuable is kept. The rest can be discarded. Sometimes it is burned up, like wood, hay, or stubble.
This is true on an eternal level as well. Sometimes we realize in this this temporal life that we have invested in things that don’t matter or things that are harmful to ourselves and others. May we have the courage to let go of those things we need to shed.
May our eyes be opened to those things that are more precious than silver and gold, to those things that are of lasting value, and those things that make us more like our Maker.
May we confidently continue our walk in this world, faithful to fulful our purpose in who the Lord created to be, in spite of the risks that may befall us.