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!