Well, actually, they’re not really called yogurt trees. They’re redbuds – beautiful, slender trees that dot wooded areas and homeowners’ properties throughout the South and much of the East Coast. Our daughter Stephanie started calling them “yogurt trees” in high school because their delicate blossoms are the same pinkish-purplish color as the boysenberry yogurt she loves. And the name stuck – at least in our family.
Yogurt trees are small-to-medium sized and have attractive heart-shaped leaves. What makes them really stand out,though, are the clusters of pinkish blossoms that pop right out of the trees’ bare branches even before the leaves do. These blossoms signal the beginning of spring, and since they start sprouting while most other trees are still dormant, you can’t miss them.
We live right next to Kennesaw Mountain National Civil War Battlefield Park just outside Atlanta, and starting in mid-March, whenever we drive through the park, I’m delighted to see little pink bursts absolutely everywhere. However, once the flowers fade and the other trees sprout their leaves, yogurt trees go virtually unnoticed for the rest of the year. But they’re always there.
And they serve as a special reminder of God’s grace. You see, even though yogurt trees/redbuds never go away, they’re easy to overlook most of the time. In the same way, although God’s grace is always present, it’s easy for me to miss it.
Absolutely everything I have reflects God’s goodness and grace: every breath I take, my physical health, each crumb of food I put in my mouth, my family, my friends, my job, and – most of all – my relationship with God. Which of these things can I claim is based on my own merit?
Although I may be the one who earns money to pay for graceries and who cooks my meals, who created food in the first place, and who designed the human body to be able to enjoy the pleasure of eating? Although I may work hard at my occupation, who gave me the intelligence and physical health that lets me hold down a job? And although I may be doing my best to honor God in my actions and attitudes, who made a relationship with God possible in the first place? Jesus is the one who died to take care of my sin problem, and he is the one who, through his sovereignty, touched my life and chose me for a relationship with him. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9:
. . . it is by God’s grace you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it – (Good News Bible)
So just like it’s easy for me to not see yogurt trees for most of the year, it’s easy for me to look right past God’s grace for much of my life.
I should point out that there is one sense in which the analogy breaks down. Since the trees’ blossoms are linked to the seasonal calendar, I am guaranteed to notice them every spring. But I have the chance every single day to either notice – or miss seeing – God’s grace.