The Bradford Pear Tree – the Rest of the Story!

Okay, I confess that I have a love/hate relationship with Bradford pear trees. I love the way they look in the spring, with beautiful flowers and the pyramid shape of the tree’s limbs illustrating praise to the Lord our God, and our Creator.   I hate the way the trees smell!

Even though I still hate the smell, I have become aware that the smell of the flowers has a significant role to play in the overall environmental scheme.

Indeed, we believe that God, the LORD, created all things and He created it so that all creatures’ needs would be met, even the Bradford pear tree’s needs, and it is all to His glory!

 

Bradford pear tree  in downtown Nashville (C)
Bradford pear tree in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

 

The Psalmist says:

The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

Psalm 24:1 [NIV].

Now even though it has been a long time since I was in science class in school, I do remember that flowers and trees usually need fertilization to survive and procreate and, for the most part, that comes from pollen being transferred from one plant to another. What I have failed to recall (assuming I knew it in the first place, of course) is that flowers are one way that the plant communicates with insects for fertilization purposes. In short, the flower’s fragrance is a telegraphic invitation that is sent to, and received by, an insect a long distance away. In response to that invitation, the insect will come over and bring pollen with it, take pollen from the flower, etc.   All of this, of course, being in God’s plan so that His creation could thrive and renew itself on a continuing basis, for the blessing of the acme of His creation, human kind, and all to His glory.

Back to the Bradford pear tree – I have been informed that flowers with bad fragrances (shall I say “odoriferous flowers”?) will attract carrion insects, specifically, those flies and beetles that feed off feces, rotting flesh and other decaying organic matter. Granted, I had not really thought about how dead things disappear in the normal course of nature. But, it does not strain the mental capacity to think that if there were not “carrion insects” or other such creatures, the decaying corpses of numerous animals, birds, etc., would become overwhelming in a very short time. So they have a significant role to play in our world.

Specifically, blowflies are one type of carrion insects. They are so “skilled” in what they need, one expert opined that they can locate a dead carcass within hours, and they can smell the odor of a fresh or rotting carcass up to a mile away. [See: http://www.harnett.org/coop/March-7-2008-ask-the-hort-agent.asp?v=p ]

The connection with the Bradford pear tree is that the blowfly is the primary insect that pollinates the Bradford pear tree flower. The flowers of the Bradford pear tree smell like a rotting animal and that attracts the blowflies which are necessary to pollinate the flowers.  It reminds me of the adage that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Apparently, what I think is putrid, the blowfly thinks is wonderful.

It seems to me that bees might do just as well since I think that is one of the primary functions of bees in our gardens, woods and forests. But, the Bradford pear tree is one of the first bloomers in the spring and there are often “cold snaps” during the time the flowers are in bloom, so the blowflies could do that which the bees would have done if they were around when the flowers showed up.

This is not meant to be a science lesson. Rather, it is intended to point to just one of the gazillion, countless, ways that our LORD has established His creation by providing the creatures to pollinate the flower and by having the flower smell just right to entice the creature to come it.   Jesus talked about God’s love for His creation. In Luke he says:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7 [NIV]

Clearly, one of the lessons Jesus is teaching here is that God loves His creation including even the small birds of the air –sparrows which are bought and sold for less than 1/2 penny each are known and not forgotten by the Creator God.

Our God, Who created the earth and called it good, cares for the birds and flowers, and even provided the blowflies as part of the circle of life. Each one is part and parcel of the system so carefully established by God. It is not happenstance – it is not luck. Rather, it is the detailed, carefully ordained world that God ordained by His spoken Word.

And this same God has said that we, His children for whom Christ died, are worth more than the sparrows (and implicitly, the blowflies). He loves us and His Son, Jesus Christ, died for us. That is the ultimate proof of God’s love and care. (1 John 4:9-10)

Praise Him, oh my soul!

Father, your wondrous creation is beyond my ability to comprehend.  You have cared for all your creatures and have supplied all their needs.  May I remember that You have supplied all my needs as well.  Forgive me when I have confused my needs with my wants.  May my life reflect reliance on You in all things for You are Sovereign and I can rest in your loving care.  Thank You for the lesson of the Bradford pear tree and the blowflies. 

The Bradford Pear Tree — and Me!

It has been unseasonably warm in our area of the country. As a result, some of the spring trees and plants are already in bloom, unaware that most of the time there is snow and freezing temperatures in March. In any event, they are blooming and, snow or not, it reminds me of spring and I am glad.

 

One of the flowering trees that I love is the Bradford pear tree – in spring, it is usually the first tree in bloom with its white flowers filling up the limbs of the tree. The trees are beautifully shaped and their limbs reach to the skies in homage to the Creator.

Bradford pear trees
Bradford pear trees with their flowering blooms and branches reaching up to the heavens.

 

Often, when I see the Bradford pear tree in bloom, I think about the beautiful things in this world, and/or what I perceive is good in myself.   You know, what I mean – the things that I did and which I perceive were good or the charitable activity that I performed recently, knowing that surely God will be happy that I did whatever it was! I smile as I drive past the tree, thinking that it reflects all that is good in my life and I am happy.

Book pictures Bradford pear- flowers 11
Flowering Bradford pear trees in our neighborhood.

 

But, if you live anywhere near a Bradford pear tree, and if you have a working nose, you will know that the “beautiful” flowers on the trees actually have a very unsavory aroma. Okay, to put it in the real world terms, they are beautiful as you drive past, but put your nose into the plethora of blooms and you will no longer be happy — the flowers stink.

 

And the analogy to my own life continues! The Bible says that all of our righteous acts, all the good things that we think we do — ALL of it stinks in God’s nose.   The prophet Isaiah describes our righteous acts in Scripture as follows:

 

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.   Isaiah 64:6.

 

Isaiah’s use of the words “filthy rags” does not mean a dirty dust cloth – rather it is, well, filthy rags that you certainly would not want on display anywhere!

 

Praise the Lord that this is not the last word for the Christian, however. Paul in his letter to the Romans, states:

 

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10.

 

In other words, I don’t have to depend on my own righteousness (or good works) to satisfy my accounts with God. Christ did that when He died on the cross … and His Spirit gives life, both now and evermore, because of His righteousness which has been given to me through His amazing grace.

 

So, I come back to the Bradford pear tree. I still love that tree – it is beautiful with its flower-covered limb-arms shining before the Lord.

 

But, the fragrant aroma that is lifted to God by the life of the Christian is not my own stinking flowers, rather it is the aroma of righteousness granted to me through faith in Jesus Christ my Savior.

 

It is Christ’s righteousness that God sees when he looks at me. Praise His Holy Name – and let the gorgeous Bradford Pear tree and its beautiful flowers remind you of our glorious and gracious God!

 

Father, thank You for reminding me, through Your creation that my works are nothing, but Yours are eternal and good. Thank You for your Son, my Savior and Lord. Strengthen me so that my life will honor and glorify You.

 

“COLORFUL LEAVES, YEAH!” “DRIED LEAVES, UGH!”

This week, we had some beautiful weather and, on one such evening, we were eating dinner on the porch. I gazed over the backyard and noticed that some of the trees in the woods already have the characteristic red hue that precedes the brilliant color of autumn. I pointed out these harbingers to my husband and received the traditional “Ugh!” and I was reminded of our differing perspective.

We each have our own perspective whether it be on monumental topics such as our spiritual life or whether the topic is insignificant such as leaf color.  

White Bradford pear trees in Spring.
White Bradford pear trees in Spring.

I see the beautiful pallet of color that the Lord provides in the wide variety of trees in our yard and down the street. The spring blooms excite me with joy like a child seeing a Christmas tree.

Yellow spring blooms.
Yellow spring blooms.

When it comes to fall colors, I am just as excited about the forthcoming color bonanza that highlights our street; however, my beloved husband will usually respond with “Ugh!”  Rest assured, he is not anti-color and he is not diminishing the glory of God’s creation.

Beautiful colors of fall.
Beautiful colors of fall.

Indeed, he loves the color in the trees, if only the leaves would stay on the trees! What he [fore]sees is the pile of dried leaves that translates into work when he has to rake or somehow remove them from the yard so the grass beneath the pile does not die through the winter.

One of many piles of leaves raked up from the yard in the fall.
One of many piles of leaves raked up from the yard in the fall.

You see, it is all our perspective. Often we speak with people and the response we get is not what we expect. We say something that is fairly mild and, to our surprise, we get an animated fervent response opposing our comment. We may be inclined to respond with equal fervor, but before we do, we should stop and think of the perspective of the other person. There may be something of which we are totally unaware and which, if it had been known, would explain the reaction.  For example, another approach to the fall leaves on the ground would be the fun that a child has in being buried under the leaves!

Child in a pile of leaves!
Child in a pile of leaves!

People much more trained than I will have to answer how to change the perspective of another, or even if that is possible; but I can say that Scripture tells us about how we should respond in that situation.

Solomon says

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2

Again, in Proverbs 29:11 we read:

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

Paul said:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3.

And James, the half-brother of our Lord, said:

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20.

When my husband responds “Ugh” to my glee at the colorful leaves, I need to remember the difference in perspective. I remind him of the glory of God’s creation and, while I physically can’t do much in the yard, at least I offer to help him.

Backyard beauty in the fall.
Backyard beauty in the fall.
Leaves in the yard waiting to be raked up and taken down to the street.
Leaves in the yard waiting to be raked up and taken down to the street.

When it is clear that differing perspectives are at issue, how can you defuse the situation and respond with a soft answer, thinking about the perspective of both you and your fellow Christian? Pray for guidance, and He will give you wisdom.

Praise Him for the difference in perspective. Sometimes, a different perspective enables us to see more of the whole picture!

Grandchildren help Grandfather rake leaves!