Many years ago, as I marched the land set aside for what is now my neighborhood, I searched for the perfect building lot. I found a winner, one which had a maturing oak anchoring what would become the backyard. The tree had a slight lean, but I was certain that with the removal of the brambles and scrubby growth around its base I could coax it to straighten. Gardeners are usually optimistic, huh?
As the tree continued its quest for more sun it became adamant in its westward lean. I determined (more than fifteen years ago) to remove the tree, but the arborist assured me he could trim it to encourage heavy growth in the opposite direction. I really wanted to save the tree so I agreed and paid the man. Gardeners are hopeful, huh?
Fast forward to 2018. Hurricanes Florence and Michael thrashed the tree shaking away the dead branches as well as a few live ones. The forces of strong winds in the branches of a mature oak coupled with shallow roots fighting to maintain their grip in soggy soil often resolves in favor of the wind. As the tipping point is exceeded the tree crackles free and groans on its dive to the ground.
The tree survived those storms, but my concern over its height and increasing lean led me to consult with experts. Two reputable tree services gave the same prognosis about the oak, and I knew in my heart it was time to remove it. It is a bit unnerving to have a crane parked inches from the house, but with tiny fenced lots the options for removing a large tree are limited.
I did not get this man’s name, but I think it appropriate to call him Sir. What a job he has! Working with the crane operator he determines where to attach the rigging and how much of the tree can be lifted in each iteration. The large oak required three lifts.
The middle section of the tree zooms skyward in the first picture. Its trajectory takes it directly over the house where Shawn waited to snap the second photo from the front porch.
The largest open space in the neighborhood is the street, and the crew does an excellent job keeping the traffic flowing while trimming and chipping the branches. Large logs are stacked and later removed for a trip to the local mill where they become lumber.
As the last section of oak descended the hypocrisy of this tree became evident. Other than the pronounced lean the tree appeared healthy, but inside, hidden from view, waited a hollow core and substantial rot. The hollow space extended up into the trunk section and deep into the ground below. Botanical hypocrisy! An outrage! This tree was not healthy, and the decision to remove it was the correct one.
One of my greatest blessings is the certainty that God loves hypocrites the same as He loves everyone else. That gives hope. I don’t aim to be a hypocrite, but in my thought life, speech, opinions, attitudes, and actions I often achieve that status just the same. Pull out a small portion of Scripture, for example the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7, and take a measurement compared to the standard Jesus taught.
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 NASB
Chances are high that somewhere in the text of that sermon each of us will find ourselves missing the mark. I can’t achieve that perfection on my own, but God in His grace accepts me on the basis of His Son’s perfection.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB
Amazing grace indeed! That is the only cure for hypocrisy.