Just outside our walk-out basement door grows a little grove of serviceberry trees. In the spring they are adorned with tiny white blossoms. Those blossoms change to wild plum-like fruit in the summer and by the middle of the fall they lose their leaves and are bare and ugly. They are a playground to a variety of beautiful birds.
The serviceberry tree is a deciduous shrub or small tree that grows in the understory of temperate forests. It sends up numerous suckers and can become quite a thicket. It has always amazed me that as twisted and intertwined as those branches are, birds have no trouble flying through them or leaping from branch to branch.
I have been looking at this little grove like my life. Just like those little trees, life can be very beautiful and fruitful and it can also be very twisted and ugly. Learning to sail through the thicket of life is something only God can teach us.
One of my favorite passages in Matthew is chapter 6, especially the latter part. It’s on worry. Do you worry? Worry is the sin of not trusting the promise and providence of God. The English term “worry” comes from an old German word meaning to “strangle, or choke.” That is exactly what I think of when I look at our serviceberry trees in the winter. And worry chokes us in every way possible. Someone said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.”
Birds don’t worry as they hop from branch to branch or fly through the thicket. They demonstrate to us how they are totally dependent on our heavenly Father for every basic need they have. Jesus said in Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them, are you not much better than they?” Since we are more precious to God than a bird, why don’t we trust God with the brambles of our life?
Trust is a wonderful thing. Trust takes years to build up and can be destroyed by a single word or deed. That is why God is the only One in Whom we can place our trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” What a precious promise of God!
One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 37. I go to these verses often and God reminds me of how I am to fly through the trees of life. “TRUST in the Lord, and do good, so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shalt be fed. DELIGHT yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. COMMIT your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass … REST in the Lord, and WAIT patiently for Him …” This is true contentment! Worry is just the opposite of contentment. Our contentment is found only in God.
Why then do we worry?
I have many spiritual scars in my life from getting tangled in the thorny branches of sin and times in my life when I took my eyes off Jesus. Many are the times that I have had to seek God’s forgiveness as well as others’. But God is faithful, and He promises to forgive – and forget – even when we cannot.
Just as the birds fly through the trees, so we as believers need to fly through life – trusting God to direct our paths, trusting God to provide and supply our needs, seeking God with all our being, waiting on God’s direction, resting in God’s promises and goodness, and simply delighting in Him.
“I sing because I’m happy! I sing because I’m free! For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!”
JAMIE HITT / contributing columnist