Pop Pop Epistle # 170 – About Sweet Gum Trees



Dear Grandkids,

Perhaps you are aware that Nona hates all those sweet gum balls  – thousands and thousands of sweet gum balls – that populate our back yard. And I know that you are aware that every time you want to jump on the trampoline that these sweet gum balls – hundreds and hundreds of them – must be cleared off before you can jump. I have not been a fan of them either. But for me I think it is because sub-consciously they remind me too much of kidney stones. All those prickly edges wreaking havoc to the inside of my body.

Well, not to worry anymore. As of yesterday our sweet gum trees are gone. We had a great crew of tree swingers, chainsawers, log picker uppers, and yard cleaners, who made them go away. The next time you are over you will notice how much more light is coming into our yard now – and the absence of those pesky sweet gum balls.

As much as we did not like the fruit of the sweet gum tree, evidently the trees have many redeeming traits. (Hang on to that word “redeeming”). Here are a few things that I have discovered…

  • The sweet gum is an important timber tree. It is used to make veneer, plywood, cabinets and furniture.
  • The gum from these trees has been used as chewing gum, to create medicines and salves to cure a variety of ailments, and is as an important ingredient in adhesives.
  • The leaves provide an awesome display of vibrant foliage – you will remember lying on the trampoline, looking up, and noticing the beauty up above us.
  • The sweet gum nectar is used to feed hummingbirds and various other species.
  • And it turns out that even those gum balls provide seeds that birds and squirrels and chipmunks, etc. love to feast on.

But alas, they are no more. I was glad however to learn that they have many redeeming qualities. It is a lesson that we all need to learn about people as well. People can be difficult. And as you grow up you will encounter many people that quite frankly you will not like or enjoy being around. But if you are willing to look hard enough you will discover that EVERYBODY has some redeeming qualities that can be used for good purposes and can advance the purposes of God. Jesus was very good at discovering this in people. Check out Luke 8:26-39 for example and his encounter with a demon possessed man.

And don’t forget either that there will be people, for whatever reasons, who will not like you. But because you have been created in the image of God, you have lots of qualities that the Lord can use for His specific purposes. I know this to be true for you because I have seen it to be true in me.

So the next time you come across a sweet gum ball  – though probably not in our yard – take a minute and reflect on all that the Lord has done for you and ponder how He might want to use you to advance His kingdom purposes.

And never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop


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