Listen to this devotional:
Psalm 103:2 – Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (NIV)
When we moved to our present home some 22 years ago, the trees and shrubs were ever so small. The line of cedars making a natural fence between us and our neighbours was thin. The cedars did not touch each other and were only a few feet tall, as were the maples and other trees. Rarely was there ever a bird to be heard.
As time went on, the greenery grew, birds began to arrive, and stay — especially with the presence of fresh food and water.
Eventually, everything needed a good clipping, at first, every year, and then, twice a year. Then a tree or two had to come out. Although they still need a good clipping each year, I've managed to hang onto two of the largest trees, one in the front of our property and one on our property line that holds the feeder about which the little birds flit and squabble over whose turn it is to take a taste. Sometimes, we are blessed with bigger birds such as woodpeckers, flickers, and Steller's Jays.
The front tree partially obliterates our view of the ocean, and friends are constantly telling us to chop it down. Today, I compromised. I had the landscaper cut away some branches, opening up a sort of tunnel through which to look out to sea.
Is this not somewhat similar to the growth of Christianity? As it was growing, there was a fervour, an appreciation, a welcoming acceptance. Then as it grew and grew, it began to be cut down — taken out of schools and workplaces. Attempts have been made to remove it from the courtroom. The word "Christmas" quietly, then more fervently, has been removed from cards, plays, recitals, and craft fairs.
Thanks be to God for those who have the intestinal fortitude to speak out, to say that, as we increasingly embrace other cultures and religions, we don't want it done at the expense of ours. Because of the fear of offending others, that movement may seem as the tunnel in my tree, but it's there, keeping Christ in Christmas and Christianity openly in our lives.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, as we become more open in accepting and understanding other cultures and faiths, may we be ever mindful of the many benefits You bestow upon us, and so, stand firm in our own faith. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.