Beyond the Trees; Above the Tree Line…

blue ridge study_Lynn Abbott_10x10 Oil

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

My neighbors’ house sits on a grassy rise down the road apiece. Few trees occupy the lot. In fact, he tells me that she doesn’t like trees blocking the view of the house.

I shift my feet rather uncomfortably and glance at my home. Since moving in 10 years ago, my husband and I have planted close to one hundred trees.

Seems people are of two minds when it comes to trees. Some love the grassy, unadorned hillsides of Kentucky horse country; others, love the sound of autumn’s fluttering leaves on the Blue Ridge.

He tells me that she doesn’t like trees blocking the view of the house.

My love of trees sprouted during my parent’s summertime sojourns. I particularly remember camping in Montana when I was just five years old.  The high point of that trip remains a ride on the back of my dad’s Honda to the mountain grocery.

Clinging to my father, I marveled as he picked his way through the windy, tree-lined roads. The journey took my breath away.

blue ridge study_Lynn Abbott_10x10 OilOf course,  a five-year-old would never  be allowed to ride that way today. Too dangerous. But that is how, with the wind in my face and tall trees as my witness, I acquired a taste for adventure.  I have never forgotten that ride.

In light of that experience, however, I must acknowledge that my neighbor has a point:  trees actually do block grand vistas. Although camping in mountain forests puts me in range of mountain views,  the woods often block the panorama.

Forget that old proverb: “you can’t see the forest for the trees…”  That’s not even the half of it. Those leafy sentinels frequently make it impossible to enjoy creation’s grand and sweeping vistas.

In fact, in the forest, I cannot see far into the thick canopy or know what lies beyond the trees. And so, the woods simultaneously comfort and frighten.

Yeah, sometimes, I am Red Riding Hood… Or Frodo and his anxious companions lost in Bombadil’s woods.

Unfortunately for me, life frequently requires plodding through the woods when I’d much prefer dancing on the mountaintop.

Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of things to come from the back of my heavenly Father’s bike.  But mostly? I live below the tree line.

Sometimes, I am Red Riding Hood… Or Frodo and his anxious companions lost in Bombadil’s woods.

There, I do my daily shuffle.  Indeed, peering into the dim and dusty thicket,  I can only trace shadows of things to come. And I long to ride like the wind, back to the mountaintop. I’d even settle for a respite in a sunny cottage in a forest clearing.

Obviously, if it were possible, I’d choose to camp out on the mountain top.

Peter felt that way, too. He even suggested dwelling  on the mountaintop permanently.  In Matthew 17, after seeing Christ transfigured in glory, Peter offered to put up tents for Christ, Moses and Elijah.

Let’s just keep this mountain top experience going, he seemed to say.

And I can’t blame him.  After all, in the days prior, Jesus had spoken of his death. He had, in fact, begun the journey to Jerusalem where he would be crucified  Had I been in Peter’s position, I likely would have suggested staying put until the controversy over Christ settled a little.

blue ridge study_Lynn Abbott_10x10 OilAfter all, he, James and John caught a glimpse of the glorified Christ, the King of Kings, on that mountaintop. After that panorama above the world’s treeline, who would wish to return to the valley floor?  Who would choose to enter the darkness found among the Gethsemane groves?

Only Jesus.

Only Jesus, Incarnate God, would choose to leave the glory of heaven on a mission to save those who disregarded Him (Philippians 2:5-11) .

Only Jesus would put aside that glory in order serve as our substitute on a criminal’s cross… so that we might be justified and our sinful rebellion forgiven  by God .

Note the words of God the Father: “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).

Abba used Christ’s walk through dark woods to orchestrate a brilliant hope and future for all who accept His extravagant and self-sacrificing grace.

Christ’s Transfiguration demonstrates that both Moses, who had delivered the law, and Elijah, who represented the Prophets, were honored by Christ. All of the law and prophets pointed to Him (Matthew 5:17).

Yet, His work would surpass theirs (Romans 8:1-4).   And while Christ’s Transfiguration pointed to the coming Kingdom of God,  He had yet to make the appointed journey by way of a cross, carved from a tree and placed on a hill called Golgotha (Hebrews 10:1-10).

Yes, the Via Dolorosa made for us the way to the mountaintop.  Christ removed the deadly undergrowth so that He might ultimately carry you and me to His home above the tree line.

And He invites us to follow Him.  He is “The Way,” (John 14:6)

The Via Dolorosa made for us the way to the mountaintop.

True, the trip presents extraordinary challenges.  Taking up one’s cross is not for the faint of heart, (Luke 9:23; Philippians 3:7-11).

blue ridge study_Lynn Abbott_10x10 OilAs Robert Frost once noted, the woods are “dark and deep…” and there are miles to go before we sleep.

So we drag our feet through autumn leaves–our sight limited by the trees that crowd our path–the day-to-day of our existence.

And all the while, we long for something more…

Yet, even in the woods, Grace dances like dappled light. Abba sends glimmers of things to come. And with these moments of hope and joy, He reminds us of our brilliant future though we stumble through the long, woodland hike, (Psalm 3:3).


Along the way, He leads us to clearings.  We cross a bridge, or pull into a turn-out. The look out over the valley’s expanse gives us a taste of the “even better things to come…”

Of course, when I focus on the dark, seemingly impenetrable forest that lies some distance ahead, fear overtakes me.

I’m definitely thankful that Abba hasn’t asked me to forge my own way. Yup, He’s already done the hard work. My mission is to simply follow Him.

He simply asks you and me to trust the dappled light of His love.  For this reason, we step from glimmer to glimmer clinging to Abba and his promises, (Isaiah 40:29-31).

My mission is to simply follow Him.

And so, I guess my neighbor has a point. The view is lovely from that rise above the trees.

I’ll give her that.

blue ridge study_Lynn Abbott_10x10 OilBut my life has more frequently resembled a wild ride through the trees and up that narrow mountain pass.

And so it is.  The One spoken of by Moses and the Prophets–the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace–whispers, “This is the way; walk in it,”(Isaiah 30:21).

That’s right. Clinging to our Heavenly Father, we will one day reach His home  beyond the forest and above the treeline…

with its stunning mountaintop views.

“… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,” ~Hebrews 12:1,2


72 thoughts on “Beyond the Trees; Above the Tree Line…

  1. should you be surprised to know, or shall you just nod in acknowledgment, that whereas we built this house on what was once a 5-acre plot of pasture land with a handful of an oak here and an oak there…we’ve since planted 50 pecan trees…just saying 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! That really means a lot to me that you should say that. I pray that for each post, and God has truly used your words to encourage me today! Thank you for being a wonderful answer to prayer. God bless you big time! 🙂


  2. I like trees too. There is a time and a place for open vistas and place for cozy forests, and there is a time and a place for us to enjoy both. If we have a preference, that is just the way our Lord made us. When He renews His Creation He will need gardeners for the forests, the grassy plains, the hills, and the mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so very very glad for that, Tom! Your description of the New Heaven and Earth reminds me of one of my favorite non-fiction books, Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Alcorn suggests the same thing… there will be many wonderful works for us to do… and gardening is just one. It will be wonderful. Thanks for such a beautiful reminder of our hope, Tom! You’ve made my soul smile today!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “I’m definitely thankful that Abba hasn’t asked me to forge my own way. Yup, He’s already done the hard work. My mission is to simply follow Him. He simply asks you and me to trust the dappled light of His love. For this reason, we step from glimmer to glimmer clinging to Abba and his promises, (Isaiah 40:29-31).”
    My 5 year old little boy never lets me get far… my husband’s nick-name for him is “Cling-On”! But what a picture you paint, and how grateful I am that God has done the forging and allows me to literally follow in His steps while clinging to Him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love that, Linda! Thanks for sharing your story! I want to be like your little boy… I want to be “cling on” to my Heavenly Father! What a wonderful image! God bless you and yours greatly! ❤ and hugs!


  4. Your are a story teller for sure Lynn! With your paintings and words you always take us on a bit of an adventure (which is good for me cause I am always at work when I read your posts!)

    “I’m definitely thankful that Abba hasn’t asked me to forge my own way. Yup, He’s already done the hard work. My mission is to simply follow Him” – I really like this, and find it comforting. Not only has he done the hard work, he is the way, truth and the life. Crazy how we are often striving for this stuff when Jesus already is!

    Thanks for sharing your words and art.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m so glad, Dave! My tagline for my art studio is “…your visual holiday begins here.” And thus, that you should note that my paintings transport you means the absolute world to me! Thank you, thank you! And yes. I wholeheartedly agree… we make things much too difficult, don’t we? Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment, Dave! Your wisdom and insights always encourage me to go deeper with my relationship with Jesus! God bless you big time!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Amen-Amein Sister in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Lynn!! I love those Holy Bible Verses above and Your art work!! God Bless you Sister in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Lynn 💜💕 and Your Family members and Friends!!

    Our ONE True GOD’S LOVE 💕💜 is ETERNAL THROUGH HIS SON Jesus-Yeshua Christ, because HE LOVED 💜💕 EVERYONE FIRST Forevermore!!

    I Love you all Everyone through Christ Jesus-Yeshua, because HE LOVED 💜💕 EVERYONE FIRST!!

    Love 💕 Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Warren! I always relate that trip with Dad to my relationship with my heavenly Father. I’m so very glad that it resonated with you! Your encouragement means the world to me. God bless you and yours beyond all that you can imagine!


  6. You had me visualizing the sun light shining through the forest leaves and breaking into a clearing, you’re a talented lady! And the Transfiguration, the witness of the Law and the Prophets and the glory of our Lord, I’m not sure how Peter, James and John wrapped their minds around that, not to mention hearing God the Father speak out of the cloud. No wonder they all fell to the ground. And you’re right about all we need to do is follow, it’s all been done, the heavy lifting completed, albeit at such a terrible price. It is so sad and yet it’s why we are promised eternal life with God. We all need to be able to visualize in our minds and hearts the mountain top, the big panoramic view. so to speak, but it’s hard when you’re deep in the forest., where the leaves block the light. You made me think of the resolve that Jesus had, to do what had to be done, no wonder that I will and do kneel at His feet. Thank you Lynn. Grace and blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Bruce! Yes, to think of being there is truly awe-inspiring! What a glorious moment in time that must have been! Someday… yes, someday, we will be privileged to worship Jesus in all His glory. What an amazing thing that will be! I so look forward to that day… Thank you for your thoughts here. Your words helped encourage me that my post communicated exactly what I’d hoped. Thank you for “getting it.” You’re awesome! God bless you greatly, Bruce!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Lynn, thank you for opening your heart to bless so many people, far and near. I am trying to imagine how it is to have a neighbor so different than you. I think it is difficult, even if you say it is easy… I like trees too. I listen to the Holy Spirit when their leaves tremble. To me ‘trees talking’ is a sign that my enemies are defeated (2Sam 5:17-25). Even if my enemies listen to the same sound of ‘my trees’ they do not understand their ‘tongues’. Admiring my trees, they get more confused. My trees have been faithful to me. The grass is beautifully green but the sun kills it quickly here in Nigeria. But the trees are strong because their roots are strong. Grass to me is more like entertainment. Trees, more than grass, help me to worship God. Your painting is so real, I almost saw your neighbor there (smile…)… God bless you Sister!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, what a beautiful way to think of it, dear Lia! Trees talking = defeated enemies (2 Sam. 5:17-25). I will never forget that! What a blessing you and your friendship are! Thank you for your thoughtful, inspiring words! And for your lovely encouragement! I thank Abba for you again and again! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Amen! He has made it easy for us to follow Him and it should our continued mission daily. Thank you for this reminder, Lynn. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The painting is glorious. I love all the brush strokes. We had the transfiguration sermon yesterday as well and something was pointed out that never occurred to me before. Both Moses and Elijah appeared in their earthly bodies. Moses body was given to God to bury and Elijah was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot. To have these personifications alongside Jesus, the Son of God is so appropriate, isn’t it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How wonderful that you were studying this passage as well! I love that! And thank you so much for sharing the insights that your pastor taught. They are excellent. Thank you with all my heart for your thoughtful words about my painting! It’s funny how it worked. I struggled finding a composition that inspired me this week. And so I settled on something “ordinary”… Thank you for encouraging me. Obviously, God can take what I think is dull and uninspiring and use it despite me 🙂 Love and hugs to you, Kathy! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful Lynn. All of it :):) So glorious is all of God’s creations woven together. What would the trees be without the valley, and without the mountains, without the streams etc. All crafted to create this grand tapestry. Just like our lives. He weaves all the minutes, emotions, thoughts to make us a grand tapestry, if we are willing. Gob bless you :):):)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! Your comment is pure poetry, Margaret! And so very very true. God is the Master artist and creator. I stand in awe continually of His work. Thank you for your words here… they have transported me to a beautiful place in the midst of winter…and I lift my heart to God in gratitude for all that He has done for us! You have blessed me today more than you can imagine. May God bless you in return beyond all that you can ask or think!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I hear you, Lynn. I love country roads, and there is one country road my husband and I take on our way back to visiting family. It starts at the tip of a hill, and then when you reach the top you see all of these hills and farmhouses. It is gorgeous, like the pictures and postcards I’ve seen in some of the Amish stores. How often do we stay focused on the ground when we need to lift our eyes higher to the glory God has given. His help is ever present. Jesus was amazing for always keeping His heart on God’s purpose, the people. He would do whatever He had to, to give glory to God, and compassion to others. ❤

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    1. Amen! Oh, T.R., your comments always reach into my soul and lift my heart to Abba! Thank you for the beautiful insight you share here. I know others will be as blessed by your words as I am! Your drive, by the way, sounds spectacular. We lived in Maryland for five years, and what you describe sound so much like the drive we regularly experienced. I miss that. Thank you for recalling it for me! Love and huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Simply beautiful Lynn! Your words are so alive. We walk those roads as we read! I agree that sometimes we need a broadened vista that lifts our thoughts up and away. We lived many years in eastern Colorado and I got to where I love the land of open sky. But I love the secret hideaway forests of my native Michigan too. There is a special something about them that cuts static and calms the soul. Thank the Lord he made such variety and through it all finds ways to nourish our souls! Thanks once again for a heart-warming post!

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    1. Yes! I wholeheartedly agree, dear Sheila! So thankful for all the beauty that Abba created for us. And thank you so much for your wonderfully kind words about my post. It means so much to me since I pray so much that God would bring His Word alive in my heart… and I’m so grateful if my journey resonates with you as well! God bless you big time, my godly and lovely friend!! ❤


    1. Thank you so much, Bruce, for referencing my post in your wonderful study! I’m absolutely delighted that you picked up the baton and ran with it! Your post is outstanding… a wonderful study. Thank you!


    1. And thank you for your thoughtful comment! It means so much to know that God can use both my words and art to communicate Truth about Him. You have encouraged me greatly, Dave! And I’m so very grateful. God bless you big time!


  13. I have said that if you grab onto GOD like you are on a two seat bike, with HIM in the front and you in the back, that GOD will take you up mountains and down valleys. The ride will be beautiful and special and hard sometimes. But the ride with HIM is beyond compare! And we certainly wouldn’t understand those mountaintops unless we had been in some valleys.
    Loved this post and thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How wonderful that you and I have thought along the same lines! I love that! Have you written a post about it? I’d love to read it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. So beautiful. God bless you big time! ❤


      1. No have not written a post about it, but a friend of mine gave an absolutely amazing “talk” on the idea. Her words were so visual that I have never forgotten the image!
        Yes would make for a great blog post someday!


  14. This really comforts my heart, Lynn. Thank you! This line especially touches me – “Yet, even in the woods, Grace dances like dappled light. Abba sends glimmers of things to come. And with these moments of hope and joy, He reminds us of our brilliant future though we stumble through the long, woodland hike, (Psalm 3:3).” I’m so glad He has paved the way for us! I like to imagine your painting as God making a way for us through this wooded valley to one day get to our forever home. 🙂 Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And that is exactly how I intended you to see the painting, Trudy! So thank you with ALL my heart for “getting it!” I’m so glad it brings comfort! I’m just passing along the comfort that God gave me as I studied this passage in Matthew. But of course, you and I are so often thinking along the same lines! Your friendship is truly a blessing, dear Trudy! May God bless you especially as you so often bless me!! Love and hugs to you!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. God’s Creation is awesome as He is Awesome with a Capital “A” Thank you for sharing it’s Beauty in your Paintings Lynn and yes there is a right path that leads to unimaginable Joy and nothing can block it’s ambiance but sadly many don’t find it, their focus is too cloudy.

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

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