Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jack, crawling all over the place...

Sweet little hands:

The Axe

As long as I live, I will probably never forget the sound of the trees that crackled, split and crashed onto our house a month ago. I didn’t know at the time what was happening, but I remember feeling that something was wrong, or that I was hearing a very unusual or otherworldly sound. The sound of the splitting was crisp and brittle. It almost had a ring to it. The tree hitting the house was a low, booming thud and then for a second everything was really quiet. I still didn’t know exactly what had happened and then I heard picture frames hitting the floor in our living room and kitchen and without really knowing, I knew that there was a tree on my house. That night, after the sun was down and my friends had finally gotten all of the branches cleared off of the roof, there was one job left to do… get the massive trunk of that oak off of the tripod support holding it up and onto the ground. Once again, I’ll never forget the awesome tremble of the planet earth and the sound that was made when that trunk struck the ground. You know that old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?” Well, whoever first said that has never actually watched and heard a tree fall. Trust me… it makes a sound.

There is such an air of finality when a tree is cut down and strikes the earth. It may have been 150 or 200 years ago, but at some point that massive tree was just a little acorn small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Then it went into the ground to die where it germinated, sprouted and started it’s long, slow climb to the sun. For generations it has defied gravity, hoarding nutrients, water and light and spreading out a color-changing canopy over my back yard. Then, after growing and dropping leaves, after enduring droughts and rain, snowy days and summer heat countless times over, the wind blew and it fell. When it fell, it was over. It no longer takes the lion’s share of the water or claims the prime sky space. It’s reign has come to an end… see ya.

I’ve been reading and thinking this week about John the Baptist and how weird he was. I mean, the guy lived in the woods, never cut his hair, wore a camel-skin poncho and ate bugs. Yeah. But not only that, he wasn’t afraid to speak up and tell whoever might be standing there about just how screwed up they were. His whole message revolved around the problem of sin. “People are messed up and you’re one of ‘em.” That was his favorite sermon. He followed it up with, “By the way, you better stop it and turn your self around before you get deleted.” In Luke 3 John the Baptist said this: “The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” In other words, sin has been germinating, growing and spreading its branches long enough. A day is coming where God is going to cut that tree down and end it forever.

Then John met Jesus. Jesus came to be baptized, except that He didn’t need to be baptized for repentance from sin, because He’d never done anything wrong. John didn’t understand it, but he baptized Jesus anyway. After that Jesus left for 40 days and when He came back, John didn’t refer to Jesus as the fire-flinging, axe-wielding Messiah King. He called Him, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Maybe during those 40 days John read Isaiah again. Maybe he read chapter 53 again and was reminded of the way God was going to deal with sin… See, sin is the problem. And it is like a tree that’s grown out of control, and God was planning to cut it down; but Jesus laid down on that tree and let Himself be nailed to it. He cut Himself down, put Himself through the fire so that we could be forgiven. He died to bring finality to the problem of sin. Now I can change and grow. Soon our Lord will return and then love will reign and never again will sin spread its branches over the endless blue sky.

1 comment:

Molly and Brad said...

First of all, I love John the Baptist because he was the first recorded hippie. Secondly, can we have Jack?

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