When I arrived at church recently, I was struck by how pretty the trees looked. They are Kwazan cherry trees that explode annually with pink blossoms for a few weeks in May. We proudly post photos of them on this web page. As those petals fall off the tree, it looks like pink snow across the grass. All too quickly the blossoms fade away and we say, "if only their beauty would last longer."
Thanks to the mild temperatures this fall, the grass is still green and some flowers still linger. But, look at those cherry trees! I don't ever remember looking at them in the fall and noticing the pretty shades of orange the leaves have turned. In this area it is usually the colors of the oaks and maples that garner attention. But, look at those cherry trees! See how gorgeous they look on this sunny fall day.
What story is God telling me with my discovery of the beauty of the cherry trees in fall? That I need to be more mindful of what I see because I have obviously missed the brilliant color in the past? That my expectation of cherry trees looking drab except in spring is wrong, so what other expectations do I have that should be reconsidered? That God might surprise me by having me look at something in a new way causing me to change my thinking?
What story is God telling you with these magnificent trees?
Years ago in gym class a bunch of us boys took wrestling lessons. All these years later I remember the kneeling starting position. One of the things I enjoyed the most was finding out which one of us could get the best of the other with our first moves. It helped to be quick and precise with it. If not, you could lose the match in a handful of seconds.
In Genesis 32.22-32 is told the strange story of Jacob wrestling with a man (angel, God) who eventually knocks Jacob’s hip out of joint. Nonetheless, Jacob refuses to let go unless he is blessed by his opponent. In his wrestling, he came to see “God face to face” (32.30).
Do you wrestle with God through the night? Do you wonder at the idea of God? Has God “struck” you in a way that knocked your “hip” out of joint? When wrestling with your faith do you refuse to let go until you are blessed?
Nights can be long, and longer still when wrestling with God, especially when the struggle dislocates a hip, or upsets equilibrium, or leads to a new view and understanding of the world.
The next time you are in the middle of a long night wrestling with God, do not ever let go until you receive a blessing. It will come. You might have to ask for it. You might have to demand it. You might have to insist upon it. You might need to be firm as you speak to God. Just remember to hang on. The day will break. The blessing will come.
See you on Sunday!