Friday, September 28, 2012

The Fungus Among Us

It doesn‘t take much to turn my stomach these days. It rebels at a number of things commonly shown on television commercials, usually just when I’ve sat down in front of the screen with a meal that I can’t wait to dig into. Everything you can imagine is paraded in front of me at such times in explicit detail, from out-of-control pest populations on ads for exterminators, to various medical conditions that can be treated with the latest discoveries in the pharmaceutical world. As the pictures scroll, my stomach starts to roll and rumble in protest. It’s bad enough to see toenail fungus on your feet, but on the television screen at a mealtime, it’s simply too much. Yet the commercials continue, often one right after another, heedless of my voiced protests, “People are trying to eat here! Have a little mercy…!” I’m forced to close my eyes and wait for the visual torture to end, hoping I still have an appetite when it’s over.

All that to say that while I’m not fond of seeing fungus on people, on trees it’s a different story. One of the delights of walking though the woods for me is noting the “conks” or fruiting bodies of various fungi that spring up on dead or infected trees. The variety is astounding, each one beautiful in its own special way. We normally think of fungi in negative terms, but the truth is that they are doing the forest a favor, breaking up dead tree matter to release the minerals they contain and make them available to the healthy, growing stems in the ecosystem. Fungi are simply the forest’s friends, and so I feel free to admire the unique beauty and individuality of these growths that indicate their presence at work in the woods I‘m passing through. A little knowledge as to their purpose puts beauty in the eye of an otherwise skeptical beholder.

Perhaps I need to remember that when I’m tempted at times to avoid some seemingly fungus-filled people around me. Many times I’ve come to a mealtime in God’s house only to be put off by the behavior of someone near me that simply rubs me the wrong way. Yet it’s likely that God is using the very quirks that irritate me in their personality to develop some missing qualities in my own. Those traits then become a blessing rather than a burden, and that different perspective causes me to view the person with more tolerance and acceptance, again putting newly-perceived beauty in the eye of this formerly impatient beholder.

Too much time spent criticizing the other guy makes me blind to the ugliness of my own imperfections,…at least until some unexpected turn of events sprouts an uncensored reaction in me that is similarly openly displayed before a watching world. I am suddenly reminded again that I, too, am a sinner ever in need of the Savior who has redeemed me and is gradually changing me from the inside out. While those moments of reality are repulsive in themselves, their value lies in the revelation of problem areas that can be corrected once their existence is made known. Like conks on the trees they are the visual evidence of spiritual potential that is currently trapped by my sin nature, awaiting the touch of the Savior to release it in power to the benefit of those around me. And He awaits my invitation to come in His victory and likewise set me free.

It’s comforting to note that because we’re covered in Christ, when God walks among His people as I walk in the woods, He is not put off by the problem areas that are often so newly visible to us; they are hidden in His Son’s perfection. When He looks at you and me, it‘s His Son that He sees, and therefore there’s nothing but Beauty in the beholding eye of the Most High.

 “You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye. How can you say, ‘My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye?”
(Matthew 7:3 CEV)


  1. Thank you for stopping by my blog and your encouraging comment, and it's great to catch up here. I have often wondered why there are less than lovely things mixed in with God's creation, like fungus (and spiders!), but it's true that they have an important part to play in life, and the realization of our own ugly attitudes take on a whole new light when viewed in the light of spiritual potential. Thank you!

  2. beautiful message today--thanks i needed this :)


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