Tamára Lunardo

Author & Editor

Thursday

3

February 2011

50

COMMENTS

Looking to the Maker of Trees

Written by , Posted in faith, life, Uncategorized

I finally started going to Bible study again last week. I took a few years’ break to be pregnant with twins, birth twins, and survive the first two years with twins. But excuses only work so long, even adorable little matching ones.

I was disappointed to learn that we’d be studying with the book You Can Change by Tim Chester, not because I am so ridiculously fabulous and unneeding of change, but because I am so ridiculously cheap and didn’t want to drop $12 for a book to remind me that I’m an asshole. But I know that there are things about me that are in desperate need of change, and I miss the closeness of the One who can change them, so I decided to go anyway.

Using a tree as an illustration for ourselves, we talked about how the apples we bear are our behaviors. We talked about our tendency to try to gather  apples to somehow fasten to our trees –to try to “put on” new behaviors– and how easily those falsely gained apples die. We talked about becoming rooted in Christ so that we could bear good and lasting fruit. And these all seemed like great thoughts to me.

Then a woman shared her concerns about raising her daughter not to use swear words, and it launched a discussion with general consensus being that was, indeed, a concern because, of course, swear words are bad apples that need fixing. And I just sat there and thought, Fuck.

I realized we were awfully focused on the apples and trees.

I know that to make any sort of change we have to take an honest look at ourselves, but I also know that my tendency as a writer/blogger/generally self-centered person is to become stuck in that inverted posture. And I know just enough of God and myself to realize that I can never change when I’m looking at myself and not Him.

Yes, I have bad apples. I know it. I hate it. But I am so deeply tired of looking at my damn apples and the knotted, weathered tree on which they hang. I want to rest my eyes and heart on the Maker of the trees because I am wholly dependent upon Him to grow my roots deep down into the healthy soil of faith.

No tree in nature ever commanded, “Dig down, roots! Sprout forth, fruit!” The only trees that ever bear fruit– in fact, the only trees that ever survive— are the ones to which nature gives favor.

I hope the end of this study will find me changed after all. But more than that, I hope it will find me fixed on the Maker of trees, the Giver of favor, and, so fixed, changed.

  • http://midwestmomments.blogspot.com/ NotJustAnotherJennifer

    I’m so there with you!!! I too just started going back to church in the last few weeks. Not that I haven’t wanted to – I don’t have twins, but I’ve got 3 and 1 year olds – and I just couldn’t make it happen until now. I feel so far from God, and I keep trying to fix me when if I would just focus on Him more, He’d take care of it.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      I’m excited you’re going back to church. I hope you find Him there.

  • http://www.veronicamonique.com Veronica

    I don’t really have anything useful to offer, but I sure do get a kick out of how you put things into honest perspective.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thanks! That’s what I’m here for. 🙂

  • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

    I’ve been going to a new church for over a year, but the sense of community is lacking. But most Bible studies focus too heavily on the material rather than the “Maker of Tress.” Too many of these Bible Studies offer only formulaic ways of transforming lives rather than drawing our focus back to God.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      I have good hopes for this study. (If they let me back in after my tirade. 😉 )

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

    wow, i love this. (and it had me smiling, too:)

    if we believe in grace-based theology, why the junk are christians so hung up on fixing our “fruit” ourselves/trying harder?

    may we truly fix our eyes on the Maker of the trees. great meditation.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Grace-based theology. Love it.

  • http://carriemarino.com Carrie

    Tamara,

    I love you. 🙂 I really miss talking with you. We were so good at utilizing irony to find humor and solution. I think that’s a big key with God–humor. It is rapid breathing, after all.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on my latest blog post, God For Dummies, if you have the time to check it out.

    Love ya, Beautiful Mama!
    🙂 Carrie

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Humor is certainly a gift from God. Look forward to your post!

  • Nicole M

    Beautiful and thought provoking as always Tamara. And I had to laugh at the advertisement for the apple orchard at the bottom of the page 🙂

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      That’s hilarious! I don’t see ads– glad you told me!

  • http://chrissynoelle.wordpress.com chrissynoelle

    Nice analogy Tamara. I have never been so keen on focusing on the obstacles and trying to eradicate them …for the simple reason of being drawn even more to them!
    {Our pastor sometimes will talk about ”the evil of porn, not to do it…etc”
    While it’s all well and good to agree that it’s ”bad” behavior, the very mere mention of it in church, probably gets 80% of the men thinking of an image of the very thing that is wrong!}
    I would rather they focus/teach on the supreme love and grace and beauty of a God that we are to adore and worship with our whole being, and then by grace and patience we end up getting rid of all those ”apples”.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Good point. Makes me think of something I’ve read along these lines: “For every look at your sin, take 10 looks at the cross.”

      • http://chrissynoelle.wordpress.com chrissynoelle

        Ain’t that the truth!

  • http://www.fishsticksfiddlesticks.blogspot.com Jenny

    have you seen the movie Madagascar? I love that scene where the character that has his panties in a wad is trying to convince everyone that he’s on the “fun side of the island”, meanwhile the other character is actually constructing some fun stuff for everyone to hang out in and do.
    When the swearing conversation comes up, I just feel like saying, “lighten up already.” Its really not that big a deal. Its a preference thing. So your kid says shit (behind your back bc you’ve made it abundantly clear you don’t want to hear it). who cares? A better focus would be on whether that kid is compassionate, sees that the world needs love and that they can bring the kingdom of heaven right here on earth right now by “loving God and their neighbor”. I understand that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have one or the other or both. I know you don’t have to choose between the two. However, if my kids grow up and say shit (wh. they most likely will) I’ll be glad they don’t feel the need to hide it and I’ll be more upset if they don’t understand Jesus 1st and 2nd commandments. All the anti-swearing people need to lighten up, unwad those panties and come to the fun side of the island!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      I hope no one took this post to mean I was concerned with changing my language. I’m very intentional about my word choices, and hell if that’s going to change. 😉

      • http://www.fishsticksfiddlesticks.blogspot.com Jenny

        girl, I know I’m preaching to the choir! haahahaaa!

  • http://www.fromtracie.com Tracie

    I’m in so much agreement with you on this. I’m great at introspection, but I need to be more fixed on the Maker of Trees and the Giver of Favor.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      You and me both!

  • Mom

    You had me laughing out loud at the end of the fourth paragraph, and in tears by the end of the ninth.
    Love, Mum

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thanks, Mom. I love you!

  • MarieLa

    Dear Tamara,
    I have been so mixed up in trying to become a good Christian. I can tell you, I have committed absolutely EVERY SIN POSSIBLE except for killing somebody! So to save my soul, I tried bible studies, books and courses on “how to become a better Christian”. That all was just not me!!

    I received a book for Christmas on how to pray called “Can you hear me?” from Brad Jersak. And the only thing that I have learned about changing my ways and becoming more like him, is to have an honest, deep dialogue and relationship with God. He takes care of mending you, shaping you into what He wants you to be. It is none of your doing actually!! And the best part is that He loves you just the way you are now! I certainly call that GRACE! When you are absorbed in something, as I hope that your relationship with God is, then your mind and heart transform themselves and start losing interest in the world. This is a gradual process. The more you pray, the more the Holy Spirit takes control, thus making you want to stay on this track because it feels soooo good! I hope you fall completely in love with the Lord. I am like a love-stricken teenager now! He is involved in all my decisions and I crave being in His presence all day long! But as I said, it was none of my doing!! I just welcome him every day into my mind and heart. He takes care of everything else. So keep your eyes on Him and allow yourself to be the you He wants you to be, which is abundant in blessings.
    God bless you and keep you forever in His hands!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      What an awesome experience. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://awonderingspirit.blogspot.com Holli

    I love your outlook on faith. Thanks for being so honest… Christianity needs so much more of that. 🙂

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thank you!

  • http://katdish.net katdish

    What a great perspective. We say we understand we are saved by grace, and yet we so often focus on ways we fall short or how others fall short. And you’re right, that puts the focus away from Jesus and back on ourselves. We can’t be our own savior, hard as we may try.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      And we sure do try sometimes. 🙂

  • http://www.JanetOberholtzer.com Janet Oberholtzer

    Love this!
    Reminds me of the story about a convo between two early settlers … one man had married an American Indian and lived with the natives. The other lived with the white people (where all reasonable whites lived) When the guy living with the natives what asked why … he said that they enjoy life, living in rhythm with nature, instead of sitting around thinking about their sins all the time like white people do.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      I think we need to recognize it, but yeah- sitting around thinking about sin all the time seems like it could only get us more stuck in it.

  • http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/ Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

    Love it.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thanks, girl! Love when you show up here ’cause I know you hear me. 🙂

  • http://messiahmom.wordpress.com kristinherdy

    awesome post. Too much time spent dwelling on the apples (something that can be plucked and tossed) and not enough time focusing on the environment the tree is in and what causes the tree to grow and who planted the tree … it’s myopic and short-term.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      That’s such a good point about it being short term! The longest a sin can possibly last is your lifetime– but your relationship with God can last forever. Puts perspective on where our focus should be.

      • http://www.fishsticksfiddlesticks.blogspot.com jenny

        I’m writing this down. I’d never thought of it that way before.

  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony Alicea

    This is great perspective TaMAHra. I think the hardest things to change are the ones we give the most focus. Fixing your eyes on the Maker of the trees is so much better than fixing your eyes on rotten fruit.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thanks, Toneeeeeeey!

  • http://www.comf5.com/debracreighton Debra Creighton

    I try womens bible studies, but I find myself arguing against the teaching. Especially womens, Bible studies are a study of “self” not of the Lord. Writers create a following of women who are just waiting for the next study$, week-end event$$, DVD$, CD$ etc., so they can learn their next character flaw, and formula to overcome it. Someone is getting wealthy telling women they are weak, PMSing, criers, disorganized, obsessive shoppers, selfish, have low self esteem and held in bondage (bad habits don’t hold on to us as much as we hold on to bad habits). Seems like the devils plot to keep our eyes on ourselves and not on God. Can you imagine men accepting that they are such junk. It is hard to find a study that actually helps us learn who God is (exception-Kay Arthur). Personally, I don’t like foul language, but I can let loose a few. Words don’t keep you out of heaven, but the WORD will get you in. Why don’t YOU bring women together to really study God’s word??? Navigators has some great study plans too. Great Bible Teachers-Joel Hunter, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, John Piper. Videos are free!!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      I think the ladies leading this study have the same hope for it as I do– and I may just be more sensitive and freak-outish than the average person to being asked to look inward since I do it so (too) often.

      What jumps out at me in your response, though, is that all the Bible teachers you mentioned are men. But that’s a whole other blog post. 🙂

  • http://www.leanexecution.wordpress.com Redge

    Tamara, I like the approach you applied to this study. The last line of paragraph 4 just broke me up. The words we hear and the thoughts we think – two different planets.

    I often wonder about bible study groups because we really can’t express what we’re thinking or how we’re really feeling sometimes. I think we often lose something when we attempt to be too respectful and too ‘politically’ correct. I’ve found that being too careful turns the conversation into “Bible Lite” or “God Lite”.

    I guess that’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog. It’s real.

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thanks, Redge. I agree with you that “we often lose something when we attempt to be too respectful and too ‘politically’ correct.” My fear is that one of the most important things we lose is people. People need truth- to be able to share it and to be able to hear it.

  • http://www.comf5.com/debracreighton Debra Creighton

    Actually, I highly recommended Kay Arthur. In Bible college, a student asked why there weren’t many women Bible teachers. I said–There are, but they just seldom are published, they quietly teach children and women of the church, because few men will go to classes taught by women, few mothers/dads/husbands take second jobs to pay for women to go to seminary. And women are usually too busy living life, making our daily lives happen (like raising twins etc.) to have much time to study, think and write. Frankly, the best bible teaches I’ve ever had were older women from my church who taught from the Bible–not a self help book. I was encouraging you to lead women in study. Women want a teacher who is real and not superficial. That might be you. Blessings, debra

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      Thank you for the encouragement!

  • http://robinmatteri.wordpress.com robinmatteri

    “And I just sat there and thought, Fuck.”

    Amen AND I love you!!

    • http://tamaraoutloud.wordpress.com Tamara

      I kinda think I love you too. 🙂

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