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Brandon Gross

Brandon Gross

Finding Beauty Within An UGLY Church

I had been planting the seeds of this idea for years only to be rejected over and over. But, now… yes now was my chance. They were on the other side of the house and I was left there all alone.

Just me and that ugly, monstrosity of a tree.

All I needed was 45 unsupervised minutes with a chainsaw and a pre-prepared apology to my wife.

It was a 50-year-old magnolia tree that had been left unpruned for at least 49 1/2 of those 50 years. Needless to say, it looked like a 100 foot shrubbery that loved to wipe it’s nasty stick fingers on my truck every time I left the house. I called it Mr. Sticky Fingers… (see what I did there… stick-y)

I Introduce Mr. Sticky Fingers

Mr. Sticky Fingers was so large and creepy of a tree my wife had dreamed up it had to be the hideout for a band of tree-dwelling hoodlum hobbits whose primary goal in life was to grab her when we rolled the garbage can to the street each week.

Even with a band of hoodlum hobbits, she still couldn’t bear the thought of cutting it down. For years I had hinted at giving it a trim but I think she was afraid the trim might turn into an extraction.

Mr. Sticky Fingers and I had bad blood but he had one trick up his sticky sleeve; he knew he was sentimental and sentimental wards off chain saws.

My wife’s grandmother was the one who planted baby Sticky Fingers. I’m sure back then he was a cute little guy but now, he was more like the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man of the tree kingdom.

Artisan Lumberjack

I have to admit my first thought was to cut him down and turn him into mulch. However, stepping back to orchestrate my plan of attack I began to see the outline of this beautiful tree buried inside of all this overgrown mess.

It was faint but I was starting to think Mr. Sticky Fingers had a good side (camera joke for all you photogs out there.) So, I carefully started chopping away all the exterior limbs that made him look more like a bush than a tree.

I wielded that chainsaw in a form only likened to Bob Ross turning a “happy little accident” into a log cabin crested perfectly in the corner of a serene lake vista. Saw dust fell from the sky like soft summer snow and after 45 mins of being a temporary artisan lumberjack, it was finished.

Finding Beauty Hidden In The Mess

I walked past the piles of cut limbs, evicted the tree-dwelling hoodlum hobbits, out to my front yard to see a beautiful old magnolia tree that had been hidden inside of an overgrown, bloated exterior.

Mr. Skicky fingers is now one of my most favorite trees; all because I took the time to see past everything I hated about it to see a beautiful tree being hidden inside that just needed some help to be revealed.

Often we look at the church much how I saw Mr. Sticky Fingers; through all the brokenness and mess that surrounds her often missing the beauty that is hidden inside all that mess.

The church is full of problems and is honestly a paradox in herself. Full of love and grace but also hurt and unforgiveness. Her beauty though, lies inside and her Creator see’s through the mess of overgrown limbs that shroud her to see a beautiful tree growing inside.

You are part of that beauty that grows inside of the church.

A Different Perspective

So, my encouragement this week would be to look for the beauty inside of the chaos; be that in the church, life, work, family or relationships. And, if you can’t see it, step back and see if from a different perspective; perhaps from the perspective of Christ.

What you might find is there is a beautiful tree growing inside of all that mess and it just needs someone to see that it’s there for it to be revealed.

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