First, some good news:
As I began my fifth year in Alberta I was starting to think that there is no such thing as autumn in Alberta. The past four years it felt like we leapt from a (very brief) summer into a (very early) winter and autumn lasted for about 30 minutes. Which is a shame because the fall season can be so lovely in so many ways.
I now officially take back all the bad things I’ve said about Alberta's weather. This fall season has been absolutely amazing. What a blessing to see a small glimpse of the splendor of the glory of the Lord in the beauty of this season. I’ll say a little more about that in the devotional below. Now let’s hope that this means winter will come late. And be mild. And short. (A guy can hope, right?)
A devotional thought:
“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” Acts 4:34–35
As you probably noticed from the “Good News” section of this update, I’ve been thinking a lot about trees lately. I learned something about trees this week that made me stop and praise God for the complexity and beauty of His creation. Here’s what I learned (maybe everyone else already knew this but I did not):
Trees in a forest take care of each other. Literally. If one tree is sickening then other trees share nutrients with that tree by means of an underground system of joined roots beneath the soil thereby nursing the sick tree back to health. Did you know that? Why isn’t everyone talking about this? Why have I never heard a preacher use this as an illustration for Acts 4:34-35? It’s perfect!
In order to test this hypothesis, radioactive carbon isotopes were injected into individual trees and then tracked. These isotopes did not stay confined to the individual trees into which they were injected but moved down through the tree, into the roots and out to other trees. Isn’t that amazing? But wait! There’s more.
Paper birch trees were removed from a forest of Douglas firs because it was believed that the birch trees were competing with the fir trees for limited resources. But when the birches were removed, the fir trees struggled. What they later discovered is that the birch trees were actually giving of their own nutrients to help the firs and when they were removed the firs suffered. Birch trees and fir trees don’t even look like each other! But they share resources and help each other out. A forest is a community in a very real and literal sense. That’s how God designed it.
Now think of our church as a holy forest. We’re all connected to each other in subtle and sometimes unseen ways and we need each other! None of us can make it on our own. If one of us is struggling, the others should give of their own resources in order to help supply the needs of the other. Those needs might be physical, spiritual or emotional.
Somehow trees are able to communicate these needs in order to reallocate resources. I don’t know how they do it but I’m sure someone does and if I find out I’ll tell you. But more importantly, how do we communicate our needs to one another? By asking each other how we’re doing and by giving honest answers. By making our needs known and being willing to accept help. By not judging the trees that seem a little “weaker” (remember, we all need each other). By asking follow-up questions and checking in on each other. By learning to discern relational dissonance and addressing it quickly so that our forest stays healthy. By being actively engaged in one another’s lives so that we’re able to see where the needs are. That’s how.
I love this image of a forest community that the Lord has given us. Let’s apply it to our church and make sure that we’re a healthy, thriving forest.
I’m sending you love, prayers and nutrients,
And I’m also receiving those things from you!
P.S. Today is day 14 of my quarantine! I think I may have gotten a little weirder after all these hours down in the basement so bear with me. Yesterday during the council meeting someone told me I’m slowly turning into Gollum. So I’m very much looking forward to getting out and joining the real world tomorrow!
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