Looking at the Tree?

Sometimes God catches me completely off-guard.

This weekend, I had a beautifully rare opportunity to be outside with my daughter, listening as the snow dripped from the roof and the breeze jingled through the bells we hung on the dead (we think) tree out front at Thanksgiving. Simmie loves bells, just like her grandma, so it was a special moment for me to see her engaging the jingle-bell tree in the way a two-year-old engages: Counting, jingling, and peek-a-boo-ing around the branches. Such delight. Such simple pleasure. Such a beautiful moment to share with my beautiful girl.

And I did what any mother would do: I pulled out my cell phone and tried to capture the moment in a photo. If we’re honest, it’s a feeling we’re trying to capture, isn’t it?

But I am a mother. I am a Medical Coding Auditor. I am a writer and a songstress and a wife and a reader and a crocheter and sometimes even a meal-maker. There are many things I am, I suppose – but a photographer, I am not. Even with the seemingly foolproof ease of a cell phone (to be understood: Not foolproof at all), I managed to focus one photo on the tree branch rather than the child.

I immediately tapped the screen to refocus on Simmie and retake the photo.

And Jesus stopped me right there.

That’s usually how He gets to me: In moments of my complete simplicity, when I am absolutely incapable of performing some basic function. He just stops me, and we have this moment of “Let me explain it again, Sarah.” And He does because He loves me. It is, perhaps, okay for us to keep learning some lessons. Maybe some lessons mean more the more we learn them. I’m not sure.

Looking at my daughter did not make the tree disappear. Looking at the tree did not make my daughter disappear. What I focused on determined how I perceived the moment: Was I going to look at the tree? Or my daughter?

There’s no sin in looking at the tree. There’s no sin in looking at the struggles we’re facing or the bills we know we can’t afford to pay or the diagnosis we can’t beat or the situation we cannot undo. They are real struggles. They are real situations, and they really, truly affect us. To pretend otherwise is to be dishonest with ourselves and one another.

And though we cannot always choose our circumstances in life, we can choose where we fix our eyes. Jesus will never be the wrong place to turn our gaze. He may change our circumstances. He may not. But He will change us. He will be true to His word not to leave or forsake us. He will, in the end, work all things together.

From the shores of Wicket Lake;


3 thoughts on “Looking at the Tree?”

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