Cherries to Grace

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dear Linwood Friends,

I LOVE sour cherries.  I love cherry pies and cherry cobbler.  I love to just snack on sour cherries.  When we moved to our home at Whispering Woods 13 years ago, I planted three cherry trees – one sweet and two sour.

Through the years the yield from these trees has been…meager.  One year I did pick enough for a pie, but most years the cherries are sparse and the birds inevitably pick them one day before I believe them to be ripe.

This year the trees were COVERED with blossoms and then COVERED with small cherries.  Jan and I like the birds, but I determined this year that I was going to get the first fruit and they would have to be content with the leftovers.  I purchased netting that I carefully placed over the two sour cherry trees long before the fruit was ripe.

Success.  Last week the cherries on the first tree ripened, and I had more than enough for a pie.  It was great!  However, this is not what I want to talk about with you.  It just sets the scene.

Yesterday after supper Jan came to me and said, “We have a problem.”  A robin had become caught in the netting around the cherry tree.  I went to look and it was thrashing around.  I got a pair of gloves, took ahold of the bird, and tried to untangle it.  The bird in turn gratefully tried to bite me.  Apparently it was a young bird because a second bird (the parent?) started to dive bomb me.  Fortunately it quickly backed off.  I determined that the bird’s leg was wrapped in the netting, and I knew neither it nor I would be able to untangle it.  I asked Jan to get some scissors.  She returned and began snipping away while I held the struggling bird – and it continued to bite.  After a number of strategic snips the bird was suddenly free and off it flew.

Here is my question.  When that bird returned to its parents and siblings, how did it describe what had just happened to it?

Did it say, “You won’t believe what just happened!  I got caught in an awful net, and I fought and fought to get loose.  Then it got worse.  This monster came and grabbed me, but I showed him I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.  And then, just when I thought I was going to be executed with this big sharp spear-like thing, I gave one last desperate push, and I was free and flew away from danger! ?

Or did it say, “You won’t believe what just happened!  I got caught in an awful net.  I knew it was dangerous, but I just wanted one of those cherries so badly.  I struggled and struggled, but I just got more tangled.  I knew I would never be able to free myself.  Then this wonderful man came, and he and his wife gently cut the net away from my leg and I was able to fly away.  I am so grateful to them.”

The next time that bird sees me, will I be seen as the one who saved it or the one from whom it escaped?

I doubt that birds have the capacity for reflection necessary to make either determination.  But we do and I wonder how many times we are a part of a very similar scenario.  And, I wonder what we tell ourselves about what took place.

I believe that God’s grace is at work impacting our lives daily – sometimes in little things and sometimes in big.

How often do we go through those times and say, “That was a dangerous situation.  I got myself in a tough spot.  But, I dug in.  I fought my way through.  I persevered.  And I got myself out of it.”?

Or, how often do we say, “I got myself into a really tough situation.  And if all I had was myself to get out I would never have made it.  Thank goodness that God’s grace was able to provide strength in my weakness.” ?

God has given us gifts and abilities and personalities to use in good times and bad.  Yet, I believe that often we take far too much credit for the successes.  The truth is that we are utterly dependent on God for every breath and every heartbeat.  The truth is that all of us are caught in an unbreakable net of sin doomed, except that Christ has cut us free with His sacrifice on the cross.  The truth is that each day God’s grace makes of us and that day far more than it could be than if we were on our own.

Blessings on each of you.  Hope to see you on Sunday.

Yours in Christ,
Hu Auburn
Linwood Park Pastor

One Response to Cherries to Grace

  1. Garnet Kellogg-Mazur says:

    To Pastor Auburn – What a nice Summary of services, etc. at Linwood, ending the 2013 season. I spoke to you about missing the Cherries to Grace message. I have found it and now have I believe all of them copied. Thank you for a job well done.

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