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Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship

We live in a predominantly rural area and receive our electricity through an electrical membership cooperative.
Recently, our cooperative hired a company to trim branches and tree growth that threatened or might threaten the integrity of their lines, especially when winter storms or severe weather approaches.

The tree company took their task seriously; any vegetation that was within 15 feet of the power lines was indiscriminately sawed off.

As a result, dogwood trees that were almost at their full growth had their tops sheared off, graceful 50- to 100-year-old oak trees were either chopped down or denuded of all the branches on one side, and the list continues.

The power lines run across the street from us, so we were not personally affected, but the folks who were affected were not happy campers.

Now there are two ways of looking at the situation. The first way to look is at the damage done to the trees and shrubs whose natural beauty and growth patterns were drastically altered and distorted.

I expect some will eventually die or be more susceptible to disease or insect infestation.

The other aspect of the vegetation’s trimming is that the homeowners and businesses that depend on the electricity that flows along those lines will be ensured of receiving it.

Our area is prone to ice storms and summer thunderstorms that wreak havoc on tree limbs that often fall on the lines, disrupting service.

So, particularly from the viewpoint of the cooperative, having those limbs cut away is a proactive measure.

As believers, we can apply those lessons in two ways as well. We have been created, as it says in Ephesians 2, as God’s “work of art,” with a purpose and a design to fulfill as we commit ourselves to “the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

Anything that intrudes or cuts us back from what we are called to do conforms us into something other than our intended “shape” or ministry and makes us less than we could be.

Looking at the application from the other side can be instructive as well. Sometimes, perhaps often, in order for the message of God’s love and grace to reach everyone, our individual preferences of what is lovely or even expedient must be sacrificed.

Most of us perceive life through lenses of what suits us or is better for us or more comfortable for us.

Fortunately, there are those among us who are able to see the larger picture and know that tree trimming can transform what looks as if it is destructive into energizing power.

We need to be open, not only to seeing both sides of a situation, but to be sensitive to how God’s Spirit is leading us.

We need to be careful that we are not being so conformed by things or people around us that we lose the ability to blossom or bear fruit.

At the same time, we need to be willing to be transformed by God’s grace to make sure that we do not hamper God’s power from getting to where it needs to go.

Sara Powell is a freelance writer, former board member of the Baptist Center for Ethics and former moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. She and her husband, Bill, live in Hartwell, Georgia. Her writings can be found on website, LiftYourHeart.com.