I’ve been unable to walk any distance since the 17th of February. Working slowly and steadily to rehab my knee I have worked my way up from a slow shuffle to the mailbox to longer walks around Bittersweet Farm and up and down the road. This morning I achieved a full half-hour walk out on the Falling Waters Trail at Lime Lake. It felt like a great accomplishment.
As I started out on my walk I heard someone walking behind me. I don’t move too fast so I knew he would soon overtake me. It turned out to be man on break from his job striding out to a spot beside the lake with a tackle box and a couple rod and reel combos. Turns out he was on his lunch break and had an hour to put out a line on the bottom for catfish with one rod and spin-cast for bass with the other. Here he was, a pleasant fellow, fishing on his lunch hour like a boy skipping school. Spring has come to Michigan. Soon all the boys and girls will be out of school, free to bike and run and play and fish and read for their own enjoyment. How I love the seasons and the fresh joys they bring.
Things We Don’t Like and Don’t Understand
On my day off I like to drive the back way to the village for breakfast. The roads are tree-lined gently rising and falling affording views of forest, field, and farm. The drive quiets my soul and brings me joy. I always drive slow and watch for the wild turkey or deer in my path. Prayer comes easily on the back way to the village. Just north of the village Lime Lake mimics the light and color of the ever-changing sky.
One morning about a month ago I saw something that made me sad. Just past Lime Lake, in a lovely spot overlooking the water, large earthmovers, tree removal equipment, and bulldozers were growling and smoking and pushing and pulling and cutting down all the trees growing along the road.
I stopped in shock and disappointment and stared at the ugly spectacle of it. A whole line of trees, a sanctuary of animals and birds was being destroyed. How long have they grown there, lining the way north from the village on the ridge above the shining lake? Why? Why would someone go to the trouble and expense to remove such a beautiful growth of mature healthy trees?
I must admit my prayerful pleasant drive to the village was darkened with uncharitable thoughts toward the farmer whenever I turned south toward the village on that road.
Why would he destroy something so beautiful for just a few more bushels of corn or beans a year? How long would it take for his additional profits to overtake the considerable expense of removing all those trees I didn’t like it, but the trees did not belong to me.
Last Friday was a study day for me. I would work from home in my loft, but first a bit of breakfast and black coffee in the village. It was a perfect spring morning in Michigan, sunny, fresh, and warm for these parts. I lowered my window to smell the spring air and to allow the fragrance of the April morning in the country into the car. When I reached the place where the trees used to live, along the way toward the lake, I was surprised by a sight unexpected.
The village is the quaint college town of Spring Arbor Michigan. Students and residents of the village often bike or run along the road to where the falling Waters Trail divides the two halves of Lime Lake and then crosses the road. Suddenly the removal of the trees made sense and put a smile on my face. The trees were removed to make way for a wide smooth paved bike path connecting the village to the Falling Waters Trail. The only reason I didn’t like the idea of the trees being removed was that I didn’t realize the greater good that was at work.
How many times have I worried or complained when I didn’t like what was happening in my life or when things took an unwanted turn or when someone or something troubled me, only because I could not yet see the good thing that God was doing.
Some day spring will come bright, fragrant, and eternal. The roll will be called in Heaven. The “…morning will break eternal bright and fair and the saved of earth will gather over on the other shore…” What darkened and burdened our souls along the way will be lifted and we see what God has been doing all along.
Peter sometimes doubted and misunderstood what Jesus was doing at one point famously standing by the fire and cursing among the enemies of Christ, but when the dawn came the risen Christ came to restore Peter over breakfast by the fire along the shore. He went on to become a bold courageous and faithful martyr. On the day of Pentecost, empowered by the Holy Spirit and emboldened by the resurrection he said; “… This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan foreknowledge of God…“
Peter was emboldened by the fullness of the Spirit, his confidence in the resurrection of Jesus, and his understanding of the sovereignty of God. He learned that God is in control even when things happened he didn’t like or understand.
Someday I’m going to bike the beautiful way along the ridge overlooking the lake and I will remember how much I didn’t like what was happening until I understood the greater good that it was making possible.
If you are God’s child and something bad is happening to you let me suggest a prayer: “Lord, I don’t understand what you’re doing but I know there is a good in it. Help me to be faithful until I see it and understand.
April 12, 2021