Let the Winds Blow

winds  A couple of days ago a nor’easter raked the Atlantic Coast with high seas and storm to gale force winds. I went into the yard of my North Carolina home this afternoon to survey the aftermath. Limbs were strewn all over, some as much as four feet long, stripped from pine, cherry and Bradford pear trees.

Hard to believe I was in this yard a couple of weeks ago on a suddenly 80-degree winter day, picking up only a few relatively small limbs scattered about.

Today, I was confronted with heavy, rotted limbs fallen everywhere. They were leafless but seemed firmly attached, before the winds came. Roughly 5000 Fitbit steps and many wheel-barrow loads later, the debris is cleared. Everything that could be shaken has been removed. What cannot be shaken remains.

That’s a metaphor for the life of the believer.

Like my trees before the storm, our lives can look green but be filled with dead things we cling to because we don’t realize they’re dead. That is, until life’s winds begin to blow. Trouble comes and our attachments to the dry, dead stuff of this world are loosened. Our pretensions, our busyness, our little attitudes all fall away.

Get a lay-off slip and suddenly we can prune the dead-weight from the budget with ease. Get a bad medical test result and overnight our health is the most important thing in our world. Get a text alert that our child’s school is on lock-down with a potentially active-shooter on the ground and family – not work, so important moments earlier – becomes the priority.

I don’t like storms; they portend disaster. Yet, God allows them. He speaks in the shaking. He knows we often don’t recognize the dead weights and besetting sins we need to cast off. He also knows that even when we do recognize them, we often lack the will to act.

I long knew which trees in my yard needed pruning. The work was not a priority. My arborist’s last visit came with a hefty bill and I was in no hurry to invite him back. I kept putting it off until a more convenient season.

We do that. We know we should. And we would, but we don’t.

  • We’re in a questionable relationship. We know we should probably end it, but we don’t.
  • We know our finances are over-extended and we should probably live less large. We do nothing because we like the high life.
  • We know our church-life is religious theater. We have no interest in a real relationship with God because of what it might cost us. We keep playing the role.

Whatever our story, God loves us enough to sometimes send a storm. The Bible speaks of God as a gardener and Jesus Christ as the true vine. Jesus says: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.” If we’re not bearing fruit, we’re cut away. Cuttings end up in the fire. God doesn’t want that.

So, like a nor’easter, the winds of life come to violently shake away the dead wood so that Christ followers are prepared to receive a kingdom that is unshakable.

The shaking will come. Hold firmly to the word of God, and let the winds blow!

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12: 28-29


What Really Matters?

I’m starting to think differently. Some things matter much less than they once did. I’ve lost my appetite for putting time and money into things that really amount to nothing. At this point in life, I’d rather invest in something meaningful and lasting.

It’s not complicated. People over things. Christ died to save people. He loves us and has given us all things richly to enjoy. But at the end of the day, we have to leave it all behind. Other people are all we can take out of this world.

But most of us are captivated by petty things, things like grass and silverware.

On a 3-mile walk one afternoon, I passed the yard of an elderly couple overseeing the installation of an in-ground sprinkler system. You probably know the type: little black heads that pop out of the ground on a timer.

These white-headed people were meticulously pointing out where the sprinklers needed to be angled more or less to spray the grass and shrubs just so. In response to each instruction, the landscape guys, Latinos wearing bright-colored T-shirts, ran around making adjustments. On the return home, I found them still at, the sun dropping low in the sky.

  • I thought about our dismal attempts at growing a first lawn as new homeowners. In our next home, we promptly put in warm season Zoysia grass plugs, a thick, slow-growing, mostly weed-free variety that filled every bald spot. It’s tan-colored in cool weather and a hearty green in the August heat when all the fescue lawns are brown.

Grass is a low priority in my life these days. If I live to get really old and have disposable income, I hope to God that I am not pouring money into watering dirt.

My time, your time, here is too limited to fixate on cultivating something that’s ultimately cut down. “The grass withers, the flower fades. But the word of God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)


While admiring heirloom jewelry at a shop, I overheard a customer discussing the purchase of an estate silver service valued at about $3,000. That’s $3,000 worth of forks, knives, spoons and serving pieces. It was weighty-looking stuff, polished to a shine that begged for sunglasses, clearly intended to be a family treasure.

At that moment, I wondered how much of the precious things we pass down will be turned into cash with no familial sentiment. Do Millennials even cook regularly let alone know how to set a fine dining table with that kind of cutlery?

A better question: how many hungry people could be fed by converting pricey forks into food donated to soup kitchens, food banks, and rescue missions?

  • I’m resisting the impulse to accumulate. I’m de-cluttering, gifting, learning to live more simply. I’d rather have treasure in heaven, where God is and where I expect to be.

Nothing wrong with beautiful lawns, fine dining, heirlooms. They’re just temporal, earthly. Better to hope in God, who is eternal, and to “do good, be generous and willing to share.” (I Timothy 6:18)

Grass is simply a reminder: time is short.

“As for man, his days are like grass

As a flower of the field, so he flourishes

For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,

And its place remembers it no more” Psalm 103:15-16