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Dying from Inside Out

Forest Park Nature Preserve

As I walk through a set of woods near my home I pay special attention to the various trees that have fallen or been blown over. Some had roots that were too shallow or the ground was too soft to support their weight, while others made their home on the eroding bank of a stream. To me the most curious are the trees that appear perfectly healthy but upon closer inspection show signs of disease , decay, and “rot” from the center…from within.

Jesus one referred to his critics as being like “whitewashed tombs”—looking all clean and proper on the outside while decaying on the inside. It has been my experience that most institutions and organizations do not “die” quickly but slowly over the span of several years. A careful study points to a bleeding wound from an earlier time that went largely unnoticed or ignored as their lifeblood trickled away. Sometimes this wound resulted from no fault of their own. A rural church, for instance, becomes unsustainable as fields became larger and larger and families move away to make room for the increased tillage. More often, though, a seemingly insignificant decision or action occurred. A promise was broken, feelings were hurt, or just plain bad judgment. I guess that are no small decisions.

While recently examining one of the fallen trees I discovered something completely unexpected (or rather, my wife discovered): an edible mushroom. Therein lay my glimpse of grace—new “life” … and deliciously editable!

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