Sermon Illustrations

“The Hidden Mud and Leaves!” Ephesians 6:10-17 Key verse(s): 10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

We moved to Beech Springs valley some sixteen summers ago now. We had been looking for a place that could afford us peace, quiet and some room for our growing family to expand. I can still remember the first time we drove down the long and winding drive that led to a quaint A-frame plunked in the middle of a myriad of beeches, maples and lindens. Although a bright June day above the canopy, the light was filtered and shaded below. It was the picture of tranquility as we got out from our old station wagon. There was a little creek winding its way along the entire edge of the property and everywhere we looked we could see, smell and hear trees. We walked toward the little porch on the side of the house and as we entered the door we glanced northward toward a meadow where dairy cattle were grazing. As far as the eye could see beyond there were only trees and meadows and trees and meadows. I looked at Holly and we both knew at that moment that this was where we wanted to be. It wasn’t long before the “For Sale” sign disappeared.

I think it was the peace that drew us to this place more than anything else. In those days few cars or trucks passed along the old town line road and the few sounds that could be heard were droning tractors on distant fields, the trickling sound of the creek as it slowly passed over stone and deadfall, and the ever-present shake and rustle of the leaves above. You could just feel the tension and stress of the day departing whenever you walked among its trees and hills. We named our new home Beech Springs because of the many Eastern Beech trees on the property as well as the ever-flowing artesian spring that prominently occupied space in the front yard.

Peace and quiet, rest and relaxation. Ah, those were my first thoughts when I gazed out at the peaceful scene surrounding our new home in the woods. No more dogs in kennels just a few feet away from our bedroom window. No more slamming car doors at 2:00 in the morning. No more thudding trucks lumbering along a state highway; just complete and total privacy and quietness. Well, that was the idea initially anyway. After time, however, we came to discover that all was not simply peace and solitude at Beech Springs. In the course of time we discovered that, although a sylvan dream in many ways, there were many hidden surprises in a property like this that could quickly take the edge off our day-dreaming solace.

First there was the matter of a little septic system repair. And, unbeknownst to us, we had purchased a home with a leaky roof and a tendency to gush forth a bit from time to time in the basement. Then there was the matter of that huge maple tree that overhung the west side of the house. That had to go since a good storm could bring it down on our heads at any moment. We found out that when it didn’t rain the creek became a great place for our dogs to walk--in the mud. And, as summer led into fall, literally tons (I mean tons) of leaves blanketed the yard. And, the yard? Well that was nothing more than barren ground with a little bit of moss and a blade or two of grass here and there. The fall rains made that a pretty slippery mess; and Spring? Well, let’s just say that keeping the kitchen floor clean from day to day was nearly impossible. Winter introduced us to a driveway that sloped upward making it nearly impossible to access the road without a running start. Heart in throat you cranked your head north and south to determine whether traffic might make your driveway shot perilous. Hit the gas and hope you make it!

Over the years we have worked hard, very hard to fell trees, plant grass, clear the creek, make sure that the artesian well drains, add bedrooms and bathrooms, grade driveways, paint siding, repair decks and just plain battle the mud, leaves and underbrush that endear us to this wooded valley. It is a double-edged sword. To keep the peace we need to wage the a constant battle against the nature of the peaceful but temperamental element we choose to live in. It is a picture in many ways of the Christian life. God promises us peace and comfort in the knowledge that He will deliver us from what we don’t like (the barking dog of sin--the noisy message of the world--the ominous presence of Satan) to what we do like (the peace--solitude--and comfort) of a home in heaven. But one thing He doesn’t promise; that it will be an easy and comfortable process of getting there. Only those who are strong in the Lord will win the battle and find the peace they seek. In that process we will all slog through the mud of this life and battle the tedium of day-to-day faith maintenance in order to secure the home we knew was waiting for us all along if only we had the staying power in Christ to find it.

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