Several years ago, while driving near the Mark Twain National Forest, I observed almost a mile-long row of small trees all leaning at 60-degree angle. Without exception, every tree was noticeably leaning. I asked a local gentleman why all the trees were all leaning. He explained that while the streets were relatively young, a January winter storm had coated them with ice. The coating stayed on for almost a month before melting and while still heavily ice coated, a prolonged strong straight east wind had pushed them at angle. The young trees did not break but did bend and lean under the pressure of the ice coating and wind. Unfortunately, because of the age of the trees and the severity of the winter storm, many of them would never recover. They would always grow at a crooked angle and never be as beautiful as normal trees. One strong winter storm during a key season of their life had shaped them for life.
Some folks have stories similar to those trees. A bad experience earlier in a tough season of life while it didn’t break them, did bend and shape them and as a result they never reached their full potential. Fortunately, there is a difference between trees and people. Trees are at the mercy of nature to remove the weight through the melting of the ice. People can remove the bending weight of past storms through accepting God’s grace revealed in Jesus. Trees cannot determine how they are used as lumbermen and builders will make those choices for them. People can select who will use them. By choosing to allow God to use them, they can reach their potential. While trees do not know the “straightening“ strength of a loving relationship, people can experience the love of Christ lifting their spirits and “straighten” their character.
We each know people who are so bent and beat up by past experiences of life that they have given up ever having a meaningful life. Some feel like they are victims of a cruel world, while others blame themselves for past choices. These folks do not need our pity, our judgement, or a sanctimonious religious cliché. They need the love of God. But how can they experience the love of God? It is through God’s people loving broken and hurting people in the name of Jesus. If we love people, we will pray for them. Are you praying for the lost and broken folks of our community or are you just praying for you and your family? The North Shelby Church Family has a beautiful statement on most of the church’s printed material. “Loving God and One Another Sharing Jesus with the World.” If we print and quote it is nothing more than an advertising slogan. When we put it into practice it becomes a mission statement. Lets live this week.
See you Sunday.
Your interim pastor