Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 2:12-14 (NIV)
We have lots of trees in our yard. When we first bought the property, it was farmland and completely clear and flat. We set out to turn it into a forest. Some pines, maples and oaks, we planted as tiny seedlings started in my nature loving uncle’s back yard. That was almost thirty years ago, and they now tower high into the air. A line of oaks mark our driveway and form a beautiful arch. Nature planted other trees along the property lines. They grew and survived the mowers by hugging the fence. Except during pollen season when their allergy inducing dust fills our lungs and spreads all over cars and porches, we enjoy them for their beauty and for the shade that they provide. However, when hurricane season rolls into Florida, we start looking at them askance. They become a liability instead of an asset. Do they lean too close to the house? Which way might they fall if strong winds blow? We have been keeping a close eye on one very old oak tree near the fence that separates our yard from the pasture. Its two large branches extend out from the trunk forming a Y shape. Over the last year, a huge crack developed between these two branches. It has gradually moved downward and almost reaches the ground. In the last few months, this gap has been weeping a watery like substance that has a tinge of red. It looks as though the tree is bleeding. From viewed on a ladder, the oak actually has a hole inside it that is catching rainwater. Its core is rotten. Husband has talked about cutting it down, but it is so pretty and provides shade for that side of the pasture that he hates to get rid of it. As Tropical Storm Fay headed our way, husband grew more concerned. He bought a new blade for his chain saw and loaded up on gasoline. A migraine kept him from attacking the job before the storm, so he wrapped a chain around the tree’s trunk and its branches to try to hold it together for a little while longer. I look at that tree with a chain solidly intertwined among its branches, and I think of human relationships as well. Whether it is a church, a marriage, a family unit or a friendship, our roots run deep into a common core, our relationship with God. When a disagreement or split threatens our unity, like the chain on our oak, the love of Jesus Christ wraps around us to hold us together until healing takes place. In the case of our oak, death is likely eminent. But, with Jesus Christ linking us together as one, we can overcome any storm this world hurls at us. Remembering the sacrifice He made for us reminds us of our common roots and purpose. His love is stronger than our human emotions and hurts. Let Him hold us fast together and keep us as one.