My Neighbour's Tree
As I stood outdoors waving my husband off to work, the tree in my neighbour’s front yard beckoned. Its leaves had turned a deep yellow – daubed in autumn’s gold paint. I stood there entranced, enjoying its beauty. I looked towards our own tree. Its leaves too turn yellow each autumn, so I was surprised to discover that they were still green. A few weeks later, I found that my tree was finally beginning to put on autumn attire - its leaves fast turning from green to gold. It was a lesson for me that day as I drank in the loveliness of my tree.
There are times in my life when I need to wait for “my turn” to arrive. My time to shine. My time to be blessed. My time to LIVE. It seems to take forever. But God teaches me patience as I wait. Waiting times may be difficult but they are seasons of growth.
Be patient. Wait before the Lord. As sure as day follows night, my own season will arrive at the appointed time.
As I glanced at my tree that morning – I realised its leaves were not as healthy as the leaves on my neighbour’s tree. Although my tree had more leaves, it didn’t look as pretty as my neighbour’s tree. And there was nothing I could do about it. Or was there? Of course there was. As I looked at the gorgeous sun drenched autumn world, I found the new lesson for me that day. My neighbour’s successes are mine. I can derive as much pleasure from my neighbour’s accomplishments as much as from my own. Isn’t that wonderful?
The Bible tells me that as part of the body of Christ, I don't live for myself. We are family. When one member of a family suffers the other members suffer too. We are the body of Christ. If one part of the body is triumphant, why then the rest of the body must whoop for joy along with it. We are inter-connected. We can’t help but celebrate. My physical body attests to that fact. If I hurt my little finger - all of me feels it and my mouth yelps out in pain. When on the other hand (no pun intended), every part of my body is working well - my tongue shouts out praises instead. We followers of Jesus are indeed One Body. So...
Enjoy my neighbour’s successes as if they were my own. Celebrate her joys!
Fast forward a few weeks. As the autumn wore on, the leaves of my neighbour’s tree fell off one by one. Because of its late start, my tree however took much longer to lose them. Now it was my tree’s season to shine. I gazed at my tree often, breathing in its beauty. I gave thanks to God for it constantly and savoured much joy from its splendour.
When my own season arrives, delight in the goodness of God. Praise Him!
As the weeks went on, autumn deepened. The leaves fell off both our trees. Soon there wasn’t a single leaf left on my neighbour’s tree. There were a few straggly leaves left on mine. It was time for the next lesson.
Stay Humble. God has work to do in my life. He sometimes strips me of all that’s dear to me – so I'll get the focus off myself and gaze only upon Him.
Today, I walk to my front door and open it. Sunbeams light up my world. A flock of parrots race by. Cool fresh air envelops me. Autumn leaves dance in the wind. I gaze at the two trees standing side by side - my neighbour’s tree and my own. They are both bereft of leaves. They are resting. Waiting. To ride out the winter. Together.
We are all in the same boat. All in the same place – under our sovereign God.
All equally dependent on Him and His care of us. Together.
My Neighbour’s tree taught me many lessons this autumn. My own tree did too. God who created them both smiled at me as we watched the leaves fall – as He watched me learning the lessons He brought my way. Three months on, my neighbour’s tree will start to put out little green shoots well before mine. I know what God expects of me. First, to delight in His handiwork. Next to rejoice with my neighbour. Then to anticipate with joy my own tree’s new life as it arrives. To continue to learn and marvel and grow into all that He calls us as His body to become. Connected. Rejoicing. Growing together.
I walk up my neighbour’s drive. “Would you like to have a coffee?” I ask.
She nods. “Sure. Sounds great!”
My neighbour’s tree looks beautiful – bereft of all leaves but standing tall and proud against the autumn sky. "You know, your tree looks lovely", I say, smiling.
“I was just admiring your tree and giving thanks to God for it” she says, with a grin.
I am warmed from the inside out.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4,5
Whom should I weep with today?
Whose joys should I celebrate today?
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:18-20, 26