Learning From Trees

When I was walking back to my car near the Wrangell-St. Elias NP visitor center, I couldn’t help stopping to photograph this engaging arrangement of aspen trunks. While the graphic quality of the scene resonated with me right away, it wasn’t until I returned home (all the way to Juneau) and began processing the image that I began to anthropomorphize these trees. Was it a picture of someone being ostracized from the group? Did the lone tree represent an elitist whose separation from the others was self-imposed? In the end, I decided on the title, “Set Apart”.  Carefully observing the isolated tree, I see that it is not markedly different than the rest.  In fact, I would say that if that trunk were in amongst the others, it would lack any truly distinguishing qualities. Sure, it is completely unique in its size and markings, but it would be more the same than different. Christians would do well to keep this observation in mind. It’s human nature to want out intellectual or social skills and qualities to make us stand out from the crowd. We want out “goodness” to set us apart, but that is not God’s design. It turns out we are set apart only because of where we stand, and that place in which we stand is the Grace of God, and that has absolutely nothing to do with us. Instead, it has everything to do with Him.

Set ApartThe more deeply we’re planted in God’s Grace, the greater the growth will be in the manifestations of our being set apart from the world. On the other hand, in the moment we seek even the slightest glory for ourselves in light of our difference, in that very moment, we are no different at all!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” – 1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)