The list of my Saturday chores recently included cutting down two small pine trees that were stunting the growth of a couple of Helen’s azalea bushes. Nothing to it, or so I thought. Growing up on the farm, the passage of a boy into manhood was marked by his ability and strength to take down a couple of trees, saw them up for firewood or stovewood, usually with a hand saw,  clean up the limbs and pile them neatly out of the way.

Working my way down the list on this particular Saturday, I brought out my trusty chain saw, filled it with gas and oil, and then it was me and the tree. The first one was no problem. Cut the notch toward where I wanted it to fall just like I learned over 50 years ago back at Route Four. Went to the other side and cut into the notched-out area and in a manner of seconds, that tree was on the ground! Just like riding a bicycle, you never forget how.

Then on to the second tree. Or, as I call it now, the tree that wouldn’t fall! Little did I know this one would consume most of the rest of my day! Following the same process – notch out, cut through the other side – that stubborn tree slid right off the stump onto the ground and just stood there! That’s right, sawed off its stump and standing straight and tall!

At this point, my sweet wife offered an ‘encouraging word.’ As she sat on the porch in the shade, I might add, she was heard to say, “Do you think I should get the video camera?” I’m convinced now, in hindsight, that she must surely be prophetic! A video of the rest of this little stand-off between me and the tree that wouldn’t fall would surely win the grand prize in that funniest home video television program. But back to the tree. The top of it is hung up in the limbs of fellow tree, wrapping their arms around each other to frustrate that guy on the ground with the chain saw.

Not having a chain, I begain piecing together every short length of rope I could find, tied it to the back of the little red pickup truck and away I went! Well, I had enough rope to go all the way across the yard and out the driveway. Coming to the end of the rope, lil’ red truck just stopped right in its tracks. Calling Miss Helen from her perch in the shade to drive the truck, I began to add my weight to the rope by swinging on it.  Another woodshed experience!! It wasn’t the fall that hurt so much as it was the sudden stop that took my breath away.

Are you alright,’ said she from the lil’ red truck with a smile that said “I knew I should have had this on video!” Then with all her care and concern, she said, “Just let it go – the wind will blow it down.” And it surely would have. In either of two directions. One, where I wanted it to fall. The other, toward the power line, her car, and the porch she was sitting on.

When I could breathe normally again, I sat down on the tailgate of Lil’ Red and uttered this prayer. “Lord, you gave me a brain. Please help me use it to find a way out of this dilema.” And at just that moment, I spied the hammock that I had moved out of the way earlier. At each end was a three-foot piece of chain! One end I tied to the base of the tree that wouln’t fall and the other end to the hitch on Lil’ Red. Crank it up, let the clutch out, and…Thank you, Jesus, the tree that wouldn’t fall came sliding to the ground as I drove away!

Now, God didn’t make that tree get wrapped around the others. That was all me and my lack of planning. But He used the situation to teach me a valuable piece of Woodshed Wisdom! The are so many situations, trials, troubles, tough decisions in life that seem just like that tree that wouldn’t fall. We might think that there’s just no way to solve this problem or to get out of that situation, or to know just which way to go and what decision to make. But, I can do everything through Him who is my strength (Phil.4:13, NIV). It’s when we only hear the first part of that verse that we get into trouble. The ONLY way the first part is possible is when we hear the rest of the verse. It’s through the strength of Jesus Christ that we can do ANYTHING. And that most certainly includes taking on the tree that wouldn’t fall!

Psalm 150:6

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