She woke early and try as she might there was no drifting back off to sleep. Her mind kept chattering despite any effort to quiet it down. Her husband lay sleeping beside her and although she wanted to snuggle up closer to his warmth, she thought it best not to disturb him. Extracting herself from the covers she tiptoed out into the living room. Her friend’s home faced the river and looking out she could see it would soon be sunrise.
Stepping closer to the screen she could hear the sounds of nature waking up. Finches flew in and out of the leafy oaks overhead. Slowly she opened the screen and stepping outside she slid it shut behind her. The patio was covered by an evergreen pine of some sort and an oak tree with bird houses nailed to its side.
There was a huge beam sitting upon cinderblocks providing a makeshift bench, so sitting down she relaxed in her surroundings. Breathing deep she sucked fresh air into her lungs and let her mind wander in its hope. Her eyes scanned back and forth trying to absorb every detail of beauty. She lived in the suburbs outside major metropolises of cities so her experience was becoming quite limited to any trees that were taller than 20-25 feet. Her heart ached remembering every old growth tree that was cut down only to be replaced with what she thought of as “tract trees” to make room for strip malls in her own neighborhood. Here, she could look up and see the expanse of old growth that provided an abundance of shade and character.
The sky grew lighter and her attention was drawn towards a particular bush where the color was different from everything around it. All the other trees were clearly benefiting from being so near the water and everything around had deep hues of green. The bush she saw however didn’t look like the rest, matter of fact it looked to be gold. Shaking her head she wondered if perhaps she were seeing things and refocused her eyes upon the leaves of this bush whose fullness was partially hidden behind a tree’s trunk. The color of gold was intense.
Was this a sign? Like Moses who saw a burning bush, could she be seeing something spectacular in this golden colored bush? Its color was so stunning. Something inside her gave way to caution so she went inside to get her camera. It had a decent long-range lens so she wanted to get a photograph in hopes of capturing this wonder. Taking the camera out of her bag she zoomed in tight to the leaves of gold. Under the intense focus of her lens the truth was at hand. These golden leaves were a “fool’s gold”. What looked so gorgeous from the distance was nothing but a ruse. Under closer scrutiny this colorful bush was nothing more than dead leaves with great lighting.
The truth in this experience was not to be lost upon her. She knew instantly there was a lesson to be had. Giving thought to how easily her eyes could fool her, she’d have to be careful of what looked to be gold on its surface but was truly dead. It was important not to be misled. Her willingness to put this bush under scrutiny and intense focus brought out its real character. She would be careful to study other such “golden” items or people in the future just as carefully as this bush.
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.