It took four weeks of intermittent, hard labor but I have taken care of a stump in our front yard…mostly. It all started with the ice storm – ICE2K14, or icepocalypse, or whatever you want to call that event one month ago. We had several trees come down during the storm including one right in front of the house. It was one of those tall yellow pines that bless our community with its electric-yellow dusty pollen every year. Unlike all of the other trees that fell on and around our place, this one fell right at the roots, creating a modest size root ball of Georgia red clay and knotted, spidery roots still clenching to the earth from which it came.
As of last night I finally dug, clawed and hacked my way down the hole to sever the remaining roots including the infamous tap root. When I emerged from the hole gripping the tap root I looked as though I had just caught an 80 pound channel cat. This stump is only about 24 inches in diameter but the hole I dug to get to it is about 20 feet deep. Well, maybe not twenty feet, but it was deep. Combined with the depth of the hole and the weight of the now severed stump I am looking for back up (two young men who happen to share my last name as well as part of my DNA) to help me lift the tangled mass of pine and mud out.
I plan to keep my day job if you good folks will permit. Preaching is much easier.
Of course whatever it is we do in life, if we do it well, takes effort and strength. Ask a parent. Or a teacher. Or a utility lineman. Or…well, you get the point.
What is it in your life that has you digging, clawing, working and struggling? What inspires you to see it through, whatever “it” is? The truth is most of what we confront in life is much more complex and difficult than removing a stump.
The Apostle Paul closes out his letter to the church of Corinth with these words: “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (16:13-14) I especially like those last words: Let all that you do be done in love.
There are plenty of stumps out there, and this one of mine is not the first or the last. Sometimes I am strong enough and other times I am not. Sometimes I have courage to face the obstacles and other times my heart melts with doubt and fear. One thing I can do and will do and that is to love. In the end it will root anything out.
Paul did not say it, but he could have – love is knotted, love is messy, love is difficult, and love tough. And love is worth it.