“. . . separate . . .”


“. . . there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:39)

Only a millisecond before the snap of this picture there was hope.  The severed trunk of the stately giant fell to the ground with barely a discernible “thud” in the late afternoon of a cold and snowy winter’s day, never again to bear life from its limbs.


The giant sycamore that had provided shade for children on the playground and picnickers at church festivals was deemed now more a liability and nuisance than an asset, so the arboreal angels of death were summoned.

I watched as the tree trimmers made the final cut at the base of the trunk and had a weird sense of, “Wait, there’s still hope!”  In the past I’ve seen sycamore trees reduced to mere upright trunks, only to watch them sprout branches the following year and eventually blossom to their former glory.  However, with this one last cut, all hope would be lost.  The trunk would no longer live.

To be cut off is our greatest fear, whether it’s cut off from others in the school lunch room or from others we love.  There are many reasons we feel cut off from others, everything from cultural discrepancies to personal inadequacies and lots more besides.  However, since it’s the season of Lent, I find myself more focused on how our sin can leave us feeling cut off.  Ever hurt someone and think, “Well, that’s the end of that relationship.  There’s no way back from this. They’ll never forgive me now.”  That’s one way to think about feeling cut off.  There’s no way back to the other.  Maybe there’s been times when this has happened and the other has reinforced that feeling of hopelessness by saying, “I’ll never forgive you.”  The feeling of being cut off is real and seriously hurtful.  Maybe there’s been times when the offended other has surprised us by offering unexpected forgiveness.  What a joy!

Ever done something and feel like it’s the final cut between you and God?  The thought is, “God will never forgive me for this one.  I can never go back to God.  I’m dead to God so I might as well just give myself over to whatever the hurting (sin) is that has me in its grip.”  What the Apostle Paul is reminding us in the passage from Romans is that, unlike the tree trunk, we can never be cut off from God’s life-giving love in Christ.  To know that we’re not cut off can give us the relief and determination we need to end sinful practices that hurt our selves, one another, and God.  We can listen, repent, and know God’s life-changing and ever-sustaining love.

To know that we’re not cut off from God can give us the hope we need to endure, whatever the situation.  I pray that God will give me the grace to listen, repent, and receive life-sustaining love in Christ so I can share it with daily living.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”


~ by revgenelson on March 4, 2015.

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