Despite our past failings and mistakes we can still experience beauty, goodness and joy.
About 10 years ago, we planted new trees and shrubs in our backyard. As a centerpiece we planted this Japanese maple where we could see it outside our patio windows. We knew its color would be awesome, not to mention its beautiful shape.
When the tree was still small I noticed it leaned to the right. I tried to correct it by pulling it to the left with rope and stakes in the ground. That helped for a while, but I didn’t adjust the stakes to keep the right kind of tension on the tree.
As a result, the tree is now permanently bent toward the right.
My lack of attention to this need to properly straighten the tree directly contributed to its permanent leaning to the right. For several years, nearly every time I looked at this tree I had regrets about my lack of proper attention.
I think this is a picture of how we can sometimes view our life…through the lens of past mistakes, shortcomings and sins…defined by our past.
“If only I had pulled on the rope a bit harder to steer my life in a different direction…”
“If I had just pushed my child a bit more during that time in their life…..”
“If I had just addressed our relationship issues earlier…perhaps the relationship would have blossomed and endured…”
This is sometimes how I talk to myself about my failings…maybe you do the same…
….but, let me describe this tree to you now several years later….
It is a sturdy tree with a nice thick trunk.
Its leaves are a beautiful dark purple.
It gives rest to birds.
It provides shade to animals on the ground.
Its shape is nearly perfect.
Its size is perfect for that part of our yard.
It has truly become the centerpiece of our yard.
Despite my errors when the tree was young, it’s turned out to be quite beautiful.
We are not to live in regret, disappointment, and despair about our past mistakes, sins, oversights or actions. We are forgiven. Instead of worrying about leaning left or right, let’s appreciate the beauty of our lives now and learn forward.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Philippians 3:13-15
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
I pray that my friends will take this simple image of a tree and remember that they can live without regret, without shame, and without “what ifs”. Lord help me and help us to live live leaning forward toward you, not worried about some flaw from the past. Thank you for forgiving me and us from our sinful ways and actions and help us to walk steady in your goodness and grace….with joy and life abundant! In Jesus name, Amen