Feb. 7, 2019

Spiritual Lessons From The Sugar Maple

Psalm 57:1-3

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until  these calamities be over past. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”

Sometimes God will draw our attention to the most amazing truth while in His Presence in prayer and meditation on His Word. There are times - sometimes long stretches of time - where we wonder if God is really involved at all in our life or in the outrageous affairs of humanity. We drift along on edgy faith, when all of a sudden, He will let us know He’s right here right now - because we simply need to know it.

The foregoing was the focus of prayer and meditation time this morning, yet rather than going into any sort of deep exploration of it, my attention was drawn to a pattern in the Psalms of the King who was after God’s own heart. There are three things present in the Psalms: Supplication - bringing our issues before the Lord; Affirmation - where the supplicant affirms, based on God’s promises and his experiences with them, that the Lord will answer and intervene; and Praise - a continual flow of gratitude and thanksgiving in the confident tone of the psalmist’s prayerful songs - no matter what the circumstances, and before the needed divine intervention occurs.

It was then that I realized that the first letters of these words make up an acronym: “SAP”: Supplication. Affirmation. Praise. I also felt strongly prompted to do a search on the word “sap,” in terms of maple trees and how they produce the sap that is made into sweet, delicious maple syrup.

This begs the question, that if I’m “frozen” in circumstances, but I’d really like to be a prayer warrior like the King was, and have victory, how do I “get the SAP running”, so to speak?

As I read along I was profoundly delighted at what was revealed. It became obvious that God has always used nature to reveal His ways. But before we get to that, we may want to notice that as David cried out to the Lord about his very real and very serious problems, we see him always affirming right behind that, without a doubt, that the Lord would answer and save. In faith he got the SAP running and never doubted that God would move on his behalf - as Soon As Possible (SAP again!) - from God’s perspective, timing, and at His leading.

Likewise we upon whom the culmination of the ages has come in Jesus Christ, the Messiah the Son of God, ought therefore all the more confidently call out and draw near to God, as we affirm His answer even before it materializes, giving Him the praise and glory due His name. 

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds throughChrist Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7 

We can rejoice in His ever present presiding over all things. In so doing - and then in gratefulness moving with the Holy Spirit by faith (our “sacrifice" of praise!) - we confidently and successfully not only resist the evil one, but send him packing. Out with the bad, in with the good! (And a note of caution: faith is often not about feelings.)

According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, temperatures above 32℉ cause positive pressure within the wood of the maple tree. It is the pressure within that makes the SAP flow!

When we are under pressure, that’s the time to stop pouting and start praying. In fact, we should get into the pattern of praying without ceasing whether or not we’re under pressure. That way we’re in the habit when the going gets rough. May the Holy Spirit cause us to see the pressures of our life in this light of prayer at all times - sometimes pressures are the wakeup call from God to get the SAP flowing. Now there’s a lesson about King David’s kind of praying! 

Did he have pressure? The Psalms are his prayer hymnal about that very thing. We can also read his story in 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2:11.

The Psalms are still the very best and most relevant “prayer hymnal” for the people of God under pressure to pray today as they were then. Especially when we may feel tongue tied in our praying - the “frozen chosen.” So we can bring on the SAP through Supplication, Affirmation, and Praise - in concert with Israel’s foremost king and songwriter!

This is just my thought, but it seems like the Sugar Maple might be a very good Tree of Life symbol. We can rejoice that His intention toward us is “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

How sweet it is! “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” Psalm 34:8,9.(

You can read all about maple trees and sap here: https://www.massmaple.org/about-maple-syrup/how-sugar-maple-trees-work/ )