A Pruning Perspective on Blessings

October 3, 4, and 5, 2013, Winter Storm Atlas struck Rapid City, SD and surrounding areas and states. The devastation was horrible and widespread. After the tallies were made, it was estimated that at least 14,000 cattle, 1300 sheep, 300 horses, and 40 bison were killed, with South Dakota ranchers reporting losses of 20 to 50 percent of their herds.

I lived in Rapid City at the time. We were without power for three days, a result of the driving wet snow (over three and a half feet) and 70 mph winds. (Fortunately, we had a huge, nature-provided refrigerator right outside our back door – aka snow bank – , a camp stove, and a kerosene heater.)

We’d hiked up Crazy Horse, in the nearby Black Hills, just the week before. It had been a balmy autumn up to that point, with above-average temps. All the trees were still vibrant and green, full of their leaves.

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And that was their downfall.

As the snow built up on the leaves of the trees, the branches simply couldn’t take the weight of all that moisture, plus the battering winds.

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When we were able to go outdoors, no one could drive anywhere. We had 51” of snow in our driveway.

Wading over to the street, all anyone could see was snow and branches and green leaves piled on lawns and crowding the streets.

It didn’t look like God’s mercy or blessing.

Why do I post this now?

A memory came up on my Facebook page, from September of the next year, 2014. I will let that post tell the rest of the story…

 

Last March, on the first day of spring, I walked around our neighborhood in Rapid City and took pictures of the trees. As anyone who lives in Rapid can tell you, the trees had a sad story to tell, and they wore it on their sleeves, so to speak; except that most of them had no arms, due to the blizzard last October, which killed and maimed thousands of our green, leafy trees. Some of the trees simply didn’t make it, and had to be cut to the quick.

But others were pruned. I took pictures, last spring, of the trees, forlorn as they were; but radiating the hope that pruning represented. These trees were not cut down, assumed to be useless. Every vestige of life was spared, in the hope that they would return.

Did they? Please click through the pictures and see the hope revealed. I took new pictures this Labor Day weekend, summer’s last hurrah as it fades away into the sunset. The lush greens of summer are still in full view, and we may yet have a few hot days ahead. Even as whispers of cooler air and changing seasons bow in and out, most of us have felt autumn on the way.

These trees are reminders that God prunes us, in order to produce something beautiful. As I look at these trees, their scars are still evident, reminders of hardships endured. But, they are beautiful to behold, vibrant, giving, and full of promise.

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Peace for the Disquiet

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When come the waters of trials too deep

And come the pain that causes to weep

Churning to anguish and gut-wrenching wails

Shaking fists and angry rails,

 

Pray come the Master to rescue our souls

Pray come the Spirit, surrender controls

Our Father, His Son, and Spirit of Peace

Cradles His loved ones, their flesh to cease.

 

Our hope in self stilled

Transferred to His will

Ease our anxious thoughts

Unravel the knots.

 

We have not the answers we seek for now,

Yet in obedience we agree to bow

To our Lord and Savior, our only hope

And only means by which to cope.

 

We trust in the future He has in mind

And trust, in obedience, we may find

His perfect plan, and not forsake

The joyful path He wants us to take.

 

Psalm 42.5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

I Was Laid Taciturn By My Expectations

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“I was laid taciturn by my expectations, and education lifted my hopes.”

When one dreams, can the contents of said dream be contributed to the dreamer? In other words, can the dreamer take credit for anything created in that dream?

I awoke at 6:11 this morning from a dream. This is what I remember:

Picture a man, a husband and father, mulling over the year past, feeling melancholy over the passage of time and of beginning yet another year afresh. He draws his journal to him with the intent of writing some words of substance to close out the old year. But first, he thinks, he will turn back the pages see what he had writ there on the last day of the year previous. These words were on the page: “I was laid taciturn by my expectations, and education lifted my hopes.”

I awoke, as I say, from that dream and pondered what I had just read. I had to write it down, as I knew I would be unable to ponder that which I could not remember.

From dictionary.com: taciturn: adjective; 1. Inclined to silence; reserved in speech; reluctant to join in conversation. 2. Dour, stern, and silent in expression and manner.  Education: noun; the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

I have heard the phrase “laid low,” as to mean something happened and a person felt low as a result. I transitioned that for “laid taciturn” to mean something happened and a person felt taciturn as a result.

I have written about Expectations previously. The gist is that we base our expectations on what we perceive as truth.

So maybe my dream’s quote is a re-mash of an old blog: Learn what real Truth is. Read the Bible, God’s Word (educate yourself). Ask His Spirit to rightly divide the Word for you, and to interpret how to live accordingly. Base your feelings on what God says about you and your circumstances. Put your hope in the Lord.

For this new year, lay aside old, worn-out expectations. Read and put your hope and faith in God and His Word.

I hope that man in the dream was able to reflect on some positive changes he made from the revelations of the previous year.