June 08, 2009

Chop down the tree

This morning after breakfast we received a surprise:

Right before our eyes, and just feet from our small bungalow, appeared a large red crane and a whole troop of lumberjacks. We were instantly elated. Well, I speak for myself and the boys - Kayla was mildly amused. Within moments they had set up shop, thankfully we had the best view in the whole of the city.

Effortlessly, men would climb barefoot high in the trees and attach the steel cable to a large limb. Then, they would cut the bottom of the limb until the crane could pull it up in the air so that it wouldn't crush our house or another. The one you see here is being pulled right over our house.

The whole thing was supervised by a very focused South African named Ebbe. I took a break from watching from the window to go get something from the office and he stopped me, "You are in your house? All of you? Now you must leave." So we did. He is a simple man who refuses to accept either retirement or computers. Though I'm not sure how official his role was, the men generally accepted his leadership and so did I.

As the saws were buzzing and the saw dust was flying I kept thinking of the Jason Upton song, "Chop down the tree." It might sound a little odd to some, but I love the song. Most of the lyrics are taken straight from Daniel 4, which recounts Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Belteshazzar's (Daniel) interpretation of it. It's a beautiful dream. Nebuchadnezzar has become so great that he is like a tree that fills the whole earth. But, because of his pride the One issues a decree, "Chop down the tree."

However, he would not be fully cut off. Iron was to be bound around his stump and for seven years he became as a beast of the field - meaning that like the lilies of the field, he too was TOTALLY dependent on the One. It was like Dad was giving him his masters in dependency. On graduation day, he was restored to the throne a different man. Now, with his unique training, he could rightly rule his throne and simultaneously rightly orient himself around THE throne. The trimming back of Nebuchadnezzar was catastrophic - he was the most powerful king in the world. Yet, it was also a most precious move of grace. Instead of destruction and justice, he received a greater ability to relate and worship - is there any better gift?

Though I looked quite normal when I got off the plane last year, I had indeed become very large, at least in my own mind. I did not know weakness, rather I abounded with ability. I did not know brokenness, instead I was full of strength. Then the chopping began. It's really been all terrible and wonderful at the same time. I was describing it to my friend John the other day. I don't think I've ever felt so broken and so at peace all at the same time. Dependence, it is a wonderful gift that I'm certainly receiving at personally unprecedented levels. Wheeew, I sure am glad I didn't get destruction or justice. In this season of time, that's not how He works. So go on Ebbe. Do your thing. Don't leave a branch intact!