Denver boasts one of those late spring storms of destruction. My beautiful, fragrant tree, the one I love most of all, got hit this time. From her broken, jagged limbs come these thoughts.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
~Isaiah 61: 1 NKJV
My beautiful ornamental pear tree is broken.
Just days ago I photographed her glory, an explosion of glorious white blossoms which scented the air with a fragrance that must be a whiff of heaven itself. I posted pictures to Facebook, and over sixty people liked the photo, some commenting on how perfect and pretty she was.
Then the April snow began—the heavy, wet kind. At first blooms looked pretty, just slightly coated with snow that sparkled.
Then they bent to the wet weight. Soon, tattered, they hung limp. Then even the limbs of that beautiful tree began to droop. Yesterday my husband shook the lower branches, hoping to protect her.
But the snow fell all night.
This morning I had to duck beneath her drooping arms to get to my car.
While I worked the snow continued.
By the time I pulled around the corner to return home, it had happened. What last week were strong branches a child could climb upon were now severed limbs, snapped by the cold temperatures and the weight of the snow. My beautiful, beautiful tree is broken, jagged, wounded.
My heart has been that way. Has yours?
A friend told me trees often break because they haven’t been pruned properly or at the right time. The Internet says you should wait until the cold of winter is passed to prune. In fact, late fall, when the tree is dormant is the best time. We pruned too early this year. On one of those glorious spring days we cut the limbs that were too close too our roof. I wonder if that’s why my favorite tree couldn’t handle this last late storm? Or maybe we didn’t prune the right places. I read today about the very precise way to prune a tree. It’s important to cut away the weak places so the tree can grow strong and robust.
I don’t know if a more expert tree trimmer could have prevented the damage I gaze at through my office window. Some storms are just too much no matter what you do. But it makes me think about God. About me. About this book.
In this volume of Soul Scents, I’m sharing storm stories. There were times my husband and I were broken. Parts of our life were dormant, and we were pruned. Jobs, churches, friendships, ministry, life passions—cut away neatly. The pruning started before the big storms. But there were weak places we held too tightly, refusing the snip of the pruning shears. During the storm those places fell too, only instead of neat, clean cuts they fell broken and jagged.
The good news is that even when a life storm rages harder and longer than we think possible, there is One who never leaves us. Sometimes He wisely prunes away the weaknesses; sometimes the world assaults and breaks us; other times we’re foolish and break ourselves. But He is the Master Gardner and knows just what to do help us grow strong again.
My tree will live. The snow stopped falling about an hour ago. The April temperature melts the mounded white more quickly. Even in the time since I began typing this devotional the beautiful limbs, almost relieved of the extra weight, have lifted. Those that snapped are the only ones now hugging the ground.
I love that tree.
I’m anxious to cut away the dead weight, but I am not heartless. I grieve those beautiful, blossom covered limbs that live no longer. Soon they will shrivel completely. What shocks me, though, is how many blossoms are springing back to life on the branches that survived! My pretty tree will soon be covered with fresh new leaves. She may have a few lopsided places, but she’ll keep growing. Next years she’ll stand stronger than ever. Her blossoms will once again decorate our yard and send their beautiful fragrance wafting right into my soul.
My friend, our Lord comes to heal our broken places. He refuses to leave us captive to our hurts or forever gazing at our destruction. He beckons us to step away from the rubble. He clears away the dead and severed parts, cutting the dead weight at those jagged breaks. He binds the wounds so they can heal.
Some things heal quickly. Others take a long time. Some wounds may be for heaven.
All wounds will heal.
Daily we stand stronger. More beautiful. And our lives send the aroma of Christ wafting out to souls hungry for His fragrance.
Sweet Lord, I trust You. Even when it is hard. Help me to surrender to pruning shears so that my weaknesses are more easily cut away. I want to stand strong even in storms. I know there are things that have been severed through storm, things I’ve held too tightly for normal pruning. These are especially jagged wounds. But even here weaknesses are cut away. Heal me where I am broken. I trust You to do it well. Where the wounds are the deepest I trust You to lead me out slowly, as I can handle the changes. I believe You are making me stronger. More beautiful. Make my life a fragrant offering that draws other to You.
*As I penned this devotional today I knew it was right for the first week of Soul Scents: Bloom, which releases in June. Books 1 & 2 are available now.