Wednesday, July 19, 2017


leech.jpgThese are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.  Deuteronomy 6:1-2 (NIV)

Glen and I were out on the water recovering from a very full weekend.

Because of the high water levels this summer, it’s been fun exploring places that are usually out of bounds to our red canoe. Sunday we found ourselves traveling further and further into what would have been an impassable bog.

We also found ourselves surrounded by leeches.

It was the perfect set-up for a really scary movie: Glen and I were engaged in our never-ending photo competition.  When I leaned over the side of the canoe to get a good shot of a lily pad, I noticed what looked like a cross between a flounder and an eel swimming just below the surface of the water.  (A very small flounder/eel hybrid.  But still.)  It was a leech.  Up close. BIG (for a leech).

Then Glen saw one, and I another.  Suddenly we realized that they were EVERYWHERE! We saw them glide up and over the surface of lily pads.  Actually, I think what they did was slide across the surface by biting it with their FANGS and pulling themselves across!  When they noticed us (they DID notice us), they slid off and hid.  They had some sort of intelligence.  I mentioned it was the perfect set-up for a really scary movie, right?  

We were so glad for our fiberglass canoe!  They did check it out, but couldn’t get their blood-sucking, leechy fangs into it, so they just swam around and under it…  Like sharks.  Waiting.

A friend of mine told me she once saw leeches that had been resting in the shallow water near a beach take OFF after a golden retriever that jumped into the water to fetch a stick!

Like our red fiberglass canoe, God’s Word creates a protective shield around us.  It keeps what’s good and true afloat and safe, and keeps the bad things OUT.  The leeches are waiting for us to forget, step outside God’s Word, and take a dip, but God is so gracious that He will burn them off of us if we do.


P.S.  If you look carefully, you will see a leech on the lily pad in the photo.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pruning the Apple Tree

pruning.jpgHe also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 18:9-14 ESV

To my imagination, cultivated apple trees look like baby monsters sneaking across the orchard.

In MY backyard, we have cultivated an apple tree that stands straight and tall and dignified.  The fruit it bears is so high and far away that we’d need a bucket truck to reach it!

Recently, and independently, two friends who know something about apple trees took a look at ours and called it WEAK.  Weak!  An apple tree is weak when it is left to grow straight and tall.  It needs to be pruned until it looks like a baby monster in order to grow strong and bear lots of fruit.

Our poor tree has some Isaiah 10:33 coming.  It reminds me of what happens when pride directs the pruning, rather than humility.

Behold, the Lord God of hosts
will lop the boughs with terrifying power;
the great in height will be hewn down,
and the lofty will be brought low.  Isaiah 10:33  NIV

apple tree.jpgUNLIKE the tree in my yard, I have a choice; be pruned and be strong, or be prideful and be weak.  God is delighted to make me abundantly fruitful, but I will need to be made low in stature.  My natural preference tends to veer toward the tall and stately; my soul wants the pruning.  

LIKE the tree in my backyard, I need CONSTANT pruning.  The minute I turn my back that tree has sprouted another branch racing skyward; God help me (literally) should I make peace with my pride!  It’s going to take lots more time and effort to prune the apple tree now that we’ve let it go so long; same if I don’t let God do NOW what needs to be done in me.

Many thanks to Diane Romlein, who took the photo of the apple trees (in HER yard) that have been properly pruned.