Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dead Branches, Thorns, and Contentment

As I was resting on our new hammock, enjoying the blue sky and the white fluffy clouds through the branches of the old Ponderosa Pine Tree last weekend, I was contemplating the beauty of the evergreen even though several of the lowest branches were dead.

That tree pictures life for me.  I’m growing.  I’m green.  And there are also traits about me that are non-productive, but they are still there.  Yuck!  I wish they weren’t. 

The next day in the same hammock, the dead branches were not as obvious.  The angle of the sun created a different picture.  Those bare brown branches were more a part of the whole gracefully merging into the full of life green branches above.

I’m thinking that there will probably always be traits of me that I don’t like; I wish they were not a part of me.  But they are.  Could it be that those are the things that make me more dependent on my Maker?  Could it be that being vulnerable with those things is what will encourage my friends on their journeys?  Could it be that those dead weaker branches are a source of strength?  Hmmmmm.

My mind shifts to the Apostle Paul and his thorn in the flesh.  I grab my Bible and looked up the passage in II Corinthians 12.  I was reminded that according to Paul, the purpose of his thorn was to keep him from becoming conceited.  Definitely a good thing.

But that good purpose didn’t stop Paul from pleading with God to take away that thorn.  God’s answer is familiar, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.  II Corinthians 12:9 

So Paul concluded:  “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses … I am content with weaknesses …”  parts of II Corinthians 12:9,10

Paul’s second conclusion is what stops me in my tracks.  He is content with weaknesses; with dead branches.  My immediate question, how can that be, is quickly answered, “so that the power of Christ may rest upon me … for when I am weak then I am strong.”  Again, parts of verses 9 and 10

So now I’m forced to ask, do I want the power of Christ to rest on me?  YES!  Then I must believe that those dead branches, those thorns in my life have the fingerprints of God all over them.  I, like Paul, can be content with weaknesses.  I’m working on that one.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

You may want to read some of my additional thoughts on contentment from my 10/25/10 post.


  1. I love this today. It made me think of my struggles with my family and how God really had his hand even in heartbreak. So encouraging. You are a wonderful and inspiring teacher of God's truth!

  2. Sue, what a beautiful, well told analogy. I was lying there in the hammock too, feeling my own brown bristles. I love how you saw truth in God's creation: "Those bare brown branches were more a part of the whole gracefully merging into the full of life green branches above."

    I'm good at setting goals to conquer my bristles but not so good at accepting them.