It was an awful sight.

I drove into my apartment parking lot this afternoon and saw rows of tree trucks.  I’m not sure of the technical name for them, but they’re the trucks with the long arms on them and the people-baskets on the ends.  The people-baskets that hold the workers who cut down the trees.

My trees.

Well, they aren’t actually “my” trees.  But they do grow outside my bedroom windows.  And I love them.  And I don’t want to see them cut down.  Or cut back.

But cutting back was apparently on the tree-truck agenda for today.  The lovely swaying palm tree outside my bedroom window was cut back to a few sad fronds sticking right out the middle of it.  And there was my bedroom window, bare and exposed and in need of some shade.

I know the tree will grow back.  And I know there was a reason why the tree-truck people hacked away so mercilessly at “my tree”.  But it still made me sad.

Sometimes God hacks away (or so it seems) at things in our lives.  Things we’ve grown accustomed to, things we “need”, things we cherish.  And it seems harsh and unnecessary and it leaves us feeling exposed and sad.

But just as the tree-truck people had a reason for trimming my palm trees, God has a reason for allowing some pruning in our lives, too.  Pruning makes a tree healthier.  Pruning cuts away the parts that might not be growing the way they should.  Pruning helps what is left of the tree get stronger.

The palm fronds may be gone, but that tree is still strong.  It was just pruned. And it’s the same way with us.

So bring on those tree-trucks if that’s what I need, Lord.  I trust that whatever you cut away or leave behind is all part of Your plan.  I might wince and wish for a moment that You hadn’t done it, but I know I’m going to be OK.  Actually, better than OK.

Better than I was before.

For there is hope for a tree if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease.  Job 14:7

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  John 15:2

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding  and eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17



I’m a planner.

I like to know that I have all my ducks in a row. I like to know all the details about an assignment before I take it on. I like to think of every possible angle, every possible thing that could go wrong, every possible roadblock that might trip me up. I ask a lot of questions.

I want to know I’m doing the right thing before I do it.

But it seems like more often than not, God doesn’t give us all the details about our assignments up front. Seems like He’s more interested in having us step out in faith without the guarantees of how things will turn out.

He did it with Noah. Told him to build an ark. No questions asked. Noah did it. “So Noah did according to all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22). He did it with Abraham. Told him to get out of his country and go to a land He would show him. No questions asked. Abraham did it. “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4).

Sometimes, God calls us to do things without all the details up front. Sometimes He wants us to take Hebrews 11:1 very literally. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Sometimes the confirmation that we have done the right thing comes after the obedience.

Because, after all, THAT is what faith is all about.

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Hebrews 11:7

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7

(This blog post is a “rerun”,originally posted on 2/24/11 – in case it sounded familiar!)


I got the strangest advertisement in the mail last week.

“Come experience unconditional listening at our Experiential Art and Listening Center”.

What in the world is a “listening center”?  And why would I pay someone $30 for a session of “unconditional listening”?  My search to find out what it was and who would use it wasn’t too successful.  Must be some kind of new concept. 

The ad didn’t say that they offer any kind of advice or counseling.  They just listen.  But how frustrating would that be?  To open my wallet, pour out my soul to a stranger and get nothing but a smile in return? Would I walk out of there feeling any different than when I walked in?

Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.  Micah 7:7

God listens.  To me.  No matter what I have to say, no matter how I say it, no matter where I say it, my God will hear me. 

I don’t have to make an appointment.  I don’t have to pay $30.  I can talk to Him anytime, anywhere and in any situation and know that He is listening.  And He doesn’t just listen. He is busy behind the scenes working all things for my good.  He knows every detail of my life.

So I think I’ll pass on the invitation to have a stranger listen to me.  I’ve got a Friend who will listen, and do so much more.


For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.  Psalm 38:15

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  1 John 5:14

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17