Not a very good picture, since I had to dig it out of a long-forgotten digital album of random pictures. But you can see why my husband hates it. It is overgrown, thick, unruly, and just plain ugly for at least two seasons.
But in my opinion, all that ugliness is worth it. Because in May of every year, this is what happens:
And if smell-o-vision were available, you'd be able to sit in your living room and drink in the heady fragrance of spring and beauty and promise and sweetness.
This tree reminds me of the work God does in us through Christ. We look in the mirror and see our ugliness, our unrighteousness, our overgrown parts that need pruning. We see twistedness and tangled messes. And we see correctly. Because apart from Christ we are all those things. But in the spring of salvation, God clothes us with the righteousness of Christ, and brings beauty. Not just a little spot of pretty. Not just a dab of color. But he causes our ugliness to burst forth into radiance and sweet smelling incense. He takes the pile of sticks that we have to offer and turns them into flower-laden boughs.
So this tree, this ugly, twisted tree, brings me back to the cross every time I look out my kitchen window. Truly. As I bake bread in autumn, and look at the tree as the crabs are falling off of it and littering my patio, I am reminded that all we have to offer to God is shriveled up pathetic little sour crabs. But I know that
I am the vine, ye are the branches.
He that abideth in me, and I in him,
the same bringeth forth much fruit:
for apart from me ye can do nothing.
~ John 15:5
As I do dishes, and look at that tree in the dead of winter, I am reminded of my sin and its ugliness. But I know, as I look at that twisted mess, that
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD,
and whose hope the LORD is.
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters,
and that spreadeth out her roots by the river,
and shall not see when heat cometh,
but her leaf shall be green;
and shall not be careful in the year of drought,
neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
~ Jeremiah 17:7-8
And now it's here. Beautiful spring. And as my flowering crab bursts into bloom, and fills my kitchen with a pink glow as the light filters through it, I revel in the work that Christ has done on the cross for me. I am so thankful that he is able to
give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD,
THAT HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED.
~ Isaiah 61:3