planting

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Imperceptible Growth

Published August 22, 2016 by Dawn

There’s a tree on my dining room table. It’s a lovely gift from a good friend, which I received in April and surprisingly, have kept alive since then. I was afraid for a while because leaves were falling off one branch at a very rapid pace and I was sure I had somehow killed it. Even though the idea of pruning seems counter-intuitive, I thought to save my tree by cutting off that branch that was only producing death, to divert the water and food intake toward the healthy part of the tree. I gritted my teeth and snipped it off. Then came the wait.

I eagerly watched the tree, day after day, waiting to see of anything new would grow and assure me I hadn’t killed my tree. Days turned into weeks, but nothing new seemed to be growing. It was a very scary waiting time for me. I was told these trees were hard to keep alive, but I wanted it to live so badly. It’s beautiful!

A few months after clipping the branch, the inevitable finally happened. Three days ago, I noticed a small sprout near the base of the tree. Almost overnight, it seemed to have shot up and unfurled its first leaf. Two days since, today, I noticed a second shoot coming up near it, and another leaf next to the first one. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. My tree is going to live! Not only is it going to live, it’s going to flourish. It is growing!

I thought about our lives and how this tree is the perfect analogy to the inner ministry that the Holy Spirit is doing in each one of us. After Jesus gifts us back to the Father through His saving grace, we become a new creation. Our Father tenderly cultivates us so that we may grow in all the fruits of the Spirit and become more Christ-like. This includes an often painful pruning of the old, dead stuff. This pruning must be endured and surely hurts. Things that hinder our growth are removed.

Then comes the agonizing wait. We often cannot see the purpose in this pruning. We feel the pain of it, but we don’t see immediate growth and during the wait, it is tempting to believe that we have been left to wither away. It seems inevitable. But you know what is inevitable, if we trust in the wisdom of God during this process? Growth.

Having removed all the things that disable us in our walk with the Lord, He has actually redirected our attention, our energy and all that sustains us toward the parts of us that are good and capable of thriving under His delicate care. Soon, we see a small evidence pop up that assures us we are growing more and more like Christ. This small sprout will grow in its own time, often imperceptibly,  until it is as big a part of us as those things the Lord redeemed from before.

Imperceptible growth. It’s what’s happening on the inside during the waiting. You can’t see it, but it’s happening just the same. Believe it. Receive it. In Jesus’ name! Not only will we grow in Him, we will flourish!

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Plant the last Truffula

Published September 10, 2013 by Dawn

Have you ever had a book settle into your spirit, without even knowing why it touched you so profoundly? This happened to me a lot growing up. First it was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, sometime around sixth grade. It was so provocatively deep, though I didn’t realize it at the time that a lot of the story referred to scriptures in the Bible. Then, of course, came Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy, probably close to the seventh grade, when I fell in love with the heroic plight of Frodo to deliver the land from evil. And I’m not sure when I first read The Lorax, but it is another book that gripped me, though I knew not why. I know the book lends mostly to the discussion of big industry and taking care of the planet, but something in it connected with me on a much deeper level.

I was watching the movie last night and it hit me: This is about Jesus. Wrinkle your brow in consternation if you want, but I stand by it. This movie spoke volumes to me last night of what we, as Christians, need to do to see change in the world. This message comes at a crucial time for me, at least. I am completely disgusted with some of the commentary circulating the web regarding the present crisis in America, the lawlessness as well as the recent attacks on Christianity and religious freedoms. I too am appalled at the way Christians are being stifled and “persecuted”, if we can claim such a thing in this mostly-comfortable country. I admit, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. What I cannot seem to understand is the counter-attack of the church. And it is an attack.

I’m not saying it shouldn’t be one, for the record. I believe we have to stand up for Christ. But name-calling? Openly insulting our president? Pardon me for disagreeing, but these things should not be. The Bible says many things that convince me: For instance, 2 Tim. 2:14 says, “Remind others about these things, and warn them before God not to argue over words. Arguing does not do any good but only destroys those who are listening.” Also, take Job 15:3: “”Should he argue with useless talk, Or with words which are not profitable?”

In addition to the fact that arguing is useless and destroys the ones who hear it, we also know that authority is given by God, and 1 Timothy 2 tells us to pray for those in authority. While we are not bound to obey authority when it goes against the will of God, we are exhorted to pray for those in authority, and we are not given the right to openly mock or ridicule them because these things to do not draw the lost to Christ. And if we are reacting in anger, we are not living in the righteousness that God desires us to exhibit (James 1:20).

How did I come to all of this just by watching The Lorax? Because, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The truth is, there is much to do to remedy the lost cause that Christians today call “taking a stand.” It’s time to do something, but what? Let me offer a few suggestions:

  • Do not encourage those who profess to be Christians but stain the name of Christ with their foolish soapboxes. Someone, please, be bold enough to confront their bad attitude and bring them back to truth and holiness, for the sake of the lost.
  • Pray! While we cannot move mountains by our good intentions and best efforts, prayer can! Prayer can soften hearts, break down walls, create peace and start necessary dialogue. Prayer can put people in office who have the mind of Christ, and that alone can make a huge difference in the directions America is going.
  • Read your Bible. There’s a lot of things going on right now in the name of the Lord that Jesus would not approve of. There’s a lot of false doctrine causing bondage to Satan, and you can’t do anything about it if you don’t know the Truth.
  • Speak out! There’s a time to be silent, but this isn’t it. The future of America, the America our kids will grow up in, is in danger. Speak out as the Spirit gives you utterance, not with anger and fear-fueled rhetoric, but with the Spirit and power! The Lord can give wings to your words, and things will change.

The Once-ler tossed the last Truffula seed to Ted and said, “You need to plant it …” Ted responded, “But nobody cares about trees anymore.” To which the Once-ler replied, “Make them care. Plant the seed in the middle of town where everyone can see. Change the way things are. I know it may seem small and insignificant, but it’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become. It’s not just a seed anymore than you are just a boy.” Herein lies the truth: You need to plant seeds. Good seeds in good soil. Prayer prepares that soil. And do not say, “No one cares anymore.” Make them care! Plant your seeds where everyone can see them, no matter how small and insignificant they seem. Because “it’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.” Jesus can take the small work of your hands and create something huge from it. Something “mighty, for the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). The beauty is that if you plant and I plant, and many of us begin to plant, there will come a harvest! Plant the seed!