Autumn Leaves 3 Column

Friday, October 30, 2009

Healing from Disease

Ezekiel 17:24: “And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!” (NLT)

As many of you know I am an avid gardener. I love spending time in my gardens and watching the beauty of God’s creation unfold through the seasons as the plants, shrubs and trees go through the assorted stages of growth. However there are times when a plant just doesn’t thrive for various reasons. Then I have to research the needs of the plant to be sure of the amount of sunlight or rain it receives, if it is getting enough nutrients and checking it for parasites or disease. Ideally, as the issue is addressed, the plant will return to a healthy state and continue to grow.
Through the autumn months, I have been watching one of my favorite trees suffering through an issue of ‘split-bark’ disease. ‘Split-bark’ disease is sometimes the result of large temperature changes that result in the splitting of the bark of thinner barked trees. It may not kill the entire tree but the area of bark that splits needs to be treated so that a callous can develop and prevent any other disease from setting in. Smaller limbs above the split will manifest the lack of nutrients by the leaves curling up and dying, and may lead to the death of the rest of the branch. However, with the removal of the affected limbs and treating the affected bark, many times the rest of the tree will continue to flourish, the gaps from previous removal of branches will eventually fill-in and the tree will be restored to health and vigor.
Right now I believe my church is suffering through a very similar issue of ‘split-bark’ disease. Individuals have sinned for various reasons (splitting bark), and the result has been accusations (withering of leaves) and the death of relationships within the body (death of limbs). We have tried to treat the affected area of damage, but gossip (other disease) has set in, and now the whole body (tree) is suffering.
But amazingly enough, we are still seeing new growth! God’s amazing grace mercy and love are supplying the nutrients for new growth in spite of the disease! New people are coming in the doors of our building to learn about and worship our risen Lord. People are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ and new people are accepting Christ, almost on a weekly basis. God is showing us His mighty power. He is taking center stage which is where He belongs in the first place, and growing His body, the church (tree). My joy knows no bounds!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Perfect Perspective

I have always loved flying. My husband, who is more traveled and more sophisticated than I am, doesn’t get as wound up about flying as I do. He will want to sit next to the window so that he can sleep! Sleep! Who can sleep? I revert to behaving like a five year old, I get so excited. I will beg to sit next to the window so that I can look out and observe the world from a cloud’s perspective. I don’t want to miss anything, especially if it is a clear day. I strain to find the local rotary as a reference point so I can try to find my house if we head south from Boston. I search the shoreline for landmarks to help me know which city or state over which we might be flying. I love how mountains look like wrinkles on the surface of the earth, and watching rivers snake back and forth through the expanse of the landscape below. I scrutinize the ocean with bated breath in anticipation of spotting a whale, an ocean liner or a carrier when flying over water. We have such an awesome perspective when flying thousands of feet above the earth!

Unfortunately, I do not always have such an awesome perspective on my spiritual life. Last week I blogged about my own perspective on an upsetting issue. As I prayed through my confusion, fear, and anger, God in His faithfulness revealed something that was painful for me to see. He started subtly since our Father is a gentleman and I can be somewhat slow on the uptake! However the subtlety ended when, through our pastor’s sermon, God hit me right between the proverbial eyes of my soul. Idolatry! I have been guilty of the sin of making my church an idol! And to add insult to injury, idolatry was the topic of the lesson I was teaching for the Women’s Sunday school class! Ouch!

After a time of confession and repentance I have gained a new perspective on the issues at church. Luke 6: 41 spells it out for me loud and clear: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye”? Why indeed? Jesus showed me very clearly that, as my mother would say, I should tend to my own knitting! At the end of the day, I am going to stand before God and account for my actions, my thoughts, my sins; no one else’s. I have plenty of work to do on myself in my quest to be more Christ-like; my time would be better spent focusing on Jesus, above the church, above my loved ones, above anything, especially the actions of others. Caring for the hearts of others is the responsibility of Jesus and frankly, He is much better suited to it than I am. After all, He has the perfect perspective!