Did you start your new year off with a “theme word or phrase”? Everywhere I turn people have selected words related to vision for 2020 since 20/20 eyesight means you have perfect vision. But no-one seems more excited about the idea of 20/20 Vision than Rhonda, a dear friend of mine. She was excited because […]
I must have sounded like a crazy woman. And if my neighbors had rubbed the sleep from their eyes and peered out the window, I’m sure they would be convinced their neighbor was a crazy woman. There I stood towering over the flowerbed with a bucket in one hand and a stick in the […]
The shortest route and his all too frequent business trips took Normand down the same road, past the same houses, past the same ponds and past the same trees. But one day Normand noticed a strange looking tree. He felt that there was a message in the tree, but he didn’t stop.
After a while of persistent reminders, Normand stopped long enough to take a picture, no doubt it was a strange sight. One that I probably would have never even noticed. Maybe he wouldn’t have either, but God had something to say to Normand.
If you look closely you’ll see that the tree had experienced a terrible storm. Maybe it was one of the hurricanes that had stomped through that area, leaving a trail of devastation. Maybe it was a really bad thunderstorm or a sudden twister, but regardless of what the storm was called it knocked that massive tree completely down. The tree thundered to the ground, tree limbs crashed and shattered and scattered and withered and died. Most of the roots were uprooted, exposed to dry and die in the hot, southern summer heat. Only one limb survived the crash, soon it began to show signs of death. First the leaves withered and dropped and then the limb completely died of malnutrition.
The massive trunk of the fallen tree was down, but it wasn’t dead. It had roots that went deep into the ground. Those roots were bringing nourishment to that fallen tree and it began to grow new branches. Branches and limbs that turned upward, reaching for the sun! Erect limbs, strong limbs, full and lush like the original tree. When I look at the tree, I don’t hardly even see the trunk that still lays prostrate on the ground. I see the beauty of a lush tree, sprawling branches that produce a haven for wild animals. A place where cows can escape the glaring sun and ruminated in its shade. It might have been taller if it hadn’t been knocked down by a storm, but the fact that it endured the storm and thrived afterward is a message that surpasses just being tall.
As Normand studied the picture, God gave him a precious message. Sometimes trouble comes that absolutely knocks you down to the ground. Sometimes storms so furious hit our lives that they would absolutely destroy us, except for one thing–there are some roots still in the ground. And for a believer those roots are rooted deep in the Word of God and the love of God. Those roots bring life and hope. Those roots bring nourishment and peace. Those roots bring encouragement and strength. And as that life flows into the trunk, the tree begins to grow. It’s so gradual no one, except the tree even notices. It’s even too slow to be captured on one of those time-lapse videos. It’s slow, but that tree is growing and it’s growing toward the sun.
I don’t know what has happened in your life. Maybe you’ve been knocked down so hard, that it knocked the breath out of you! Maybe it stripped you of all the beautiful things in life and you feel absolutely worthless. But that tree is a reminder, you may be down, but you’re not out– if you stay rooted in the soil of God’s Word and love! It may not be the same as before, but it can be even better. Normand passed hundreds of trees that day, but he only took a picture of one tree, one tree that not only survived the storm, but thrived after it. And so can you. You may be down, but honey, you’re not out! And you will grow again.
Maybe you’re thinking, even my roots where shattered in that storm…I don’t know if I can trust God.I don’t know if I even believe that stuff anymore. My precious friend, as lovingly as I know how to say this, STOP IT! Don’t go down that road. There’s quicksand in the paths of those thought patterns. We don’t understand the why, but I can tell you, never, never for one second has God deserted you. He is with you and He wants to help you in this dark time. If your roots have been shattered, then I want to tell you…grow some more. Get in the Bible. OK, I don’t mean literally try to get in the Bible, what I should have said is get the Bible in you! Read encouraging verses. Skip over the “begats” for awhile and eat some meat from the Scriptures. (I know, I know…even the begats have a purpose, but trust me here, sink your teeth in a promise that builds you.) Declare the truth of those verses over your life, numerous times each day. Declare them and pray them until you believe them. The Scriptures should do more than feed your intellect, they are food for your soul. They should nourish you, but this only takes place when you assimilate them through thinking about them and allowing them to change the way you think.
Thank you Normand for stopping, for listening and for taking a picture! And thank you God for using a tree to remind me that I will grow again, even after a terrible storm.
Daniel 4:26 nlt But the stump and the roots were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.
Isaiah 43:2 nlt When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
Think MISSIONAL. If you know someone that would enjoy this blog, please pass it on!
The river rocks that I stopped to gather were smooth in my hand. I’m sure they started out jagged and rough. But the swift current of the cool mountain stream changed that. The strong current, relentlessly shoved the rocks downstream, pushing and tumbling them up and down, around and around, bumping and scraping them against each other until their rough edges were ground smooth. The stones that lay all around my feet had experienced the power of the water, had been shaped and honed by its prodding, pushing and shoving. Now–the water was gone. All that remained of the stream that had once coursed through this valley was a dry river bed of smooth, dry rocks and gravel. The stream was gone. And so were the raccoons, and the deer.. the bears and …the skunks and the coyotes. They were all gone. Oh, they all came when there was water, but when the water dried up, they quit coming.
And so did the human visitors. A few like Wayne and I, all non-residents, that didn’t know the stream was gone, came looking for water. Only an occasional visitor crunched down the path on the way to somewhere else. We and a few birds, flittering from tree to tree, were the only visitors that day.
When the water was depleted everyone left, everyone except the stone stackers, they stayed. They had memories of way back when, of when there was water. It’s both surprising and amazing how quickly you get used to things. They missed the water at first, but then there were so many stones to stack. And the stacked stones were beautiful. All the colors, and sizes and shapes. Beautiful stones, not that they were valuable, but they were fascinating. Stacking stones is captivating you know. I had to stop and stack a few myself. Amused and interested, I found just the right color and size to stack one on top of the other until it was sufficiently tall to stand impressive without tottering and tumbling to the ground.
The stone stackers, didn’t start out as stone stackers. They came for the water. They came thirsty. They started out as water drinkers, but when the river dried up they stayed. At first they longed for the water, they even prayed for rain, but after a while they got so busy stacking stones, they hardly missed the water at all. The stone stackers didn’t nourish life, they only left one more stack of stones. The stone stackers didn’t give water. They didn’t nourish life, they just left stacks of stones that dotted the dry river bed.
How like stone stackers the traditional Christian has become. They’ve allowed the stream to dry up in their lives because of sin, rebellion, disobedience and unbelief. It’s not that the stream was never there, it flows from the well of salvation, but neglect has damned the flow of relationship with Him into their lives. I don’t want you to miss this, indifference, neglect and sin stops the flow of the waters of relationship with God into our lives.
It’s a gradual thing. At first, the change is hardly noticeable. It happens when a believer ignores the still, small voice calling them to surrender their will to His. They hardly notice that the sin that once grieved their hearts, doesn’t really bother them anymore. Modern Christian culture has bought into the lie that conviction makes me “feel” bad, so I will ignore it. They turn up the volume knob on their entertainments. They ignore the warnings and invitations of their loving Father to spend time with Him, to read the Bible, and to obey what it says, with excuses and complaints. The water level gets lower, but they don’t notice cause they are so busy. They are doing beautiful things, churchy things, stacking stones is spiritual you know. Meanwhile, the water of God’s presence in their lives dries up—and they continue to stay where they are spiritually. At first they missed the refreshing, cleansing life-giving waters. But, they got so busy building a church and doing good stuff–stacking stones, that they forgot all about the water. They forget they were called to be water drinkers and water carries– and become satisfied just stacking stones.
Stacking stones is exhausting.
Oh, but there’s hope for dry riverbeds and stone stackers.
Elijah was a stone stacker in a time of terrible physical and spiritual drought. There’s a place for stone stackers. But the important issue here is, he didn’t stop with stacking stones. His stone stacking was an altar, a place of repentance…a place of surrender to God. A place where God responded to Elijah’s obedience with fire. It’s important that we notice Elijah didn’t stop when the fire came. He persisted until God sent the rain. Elijah was a stone stacker and a water drinker. He drank from God’s supply. Because he drank from God’s supply, because he wasn’t content to stop with stacking stones, he became a water carrier. His obedience and prayers brought water to a nation. You can read the story in 1 Kings 17.
I’m committed to be a water drinker and a water carrier that stacks a few stones when necessary! How about you? I’d love to hear from you.
Think MISSIONAL. If you know someone that would enjoy this blog, please pass it on!
Additional Link: Experiencing the Glory
When you realize you’ve made a wrong turn, then turn around and get back on the right road. Easy enough, even for directionally challenged people like me! Simple enough…right? But why don’t we have the same inclination in life when we reach a dead end? When something doesn’t work out right, “Why do we scream […]