Lessons from Leaves and Limbs
Actually, that's a mis-statement. It's not a yard .. it's what's left of the forest into which the builder set our house. I should note that, whereas I love summer and hot weather, I do not like season changes. Particularly since I don't like winter.
Nonetheless; I noted, and will point out, several things in this picture. Point #1: note the leaves in the middle of the picture, that have already begun the withering and dying process. They belong to the dogwood tree on the right.
Point #2: Note the dead branches on the tree nearest the house.
Point #3: If you look closely, just above the leftmost yellow leaves, you'll see a few new leaves sprouting from one of the previously-dead branches.
All that got me to thinking. Point #1: The yellow leaves are in the innermost part of the little jungle out there, sheltered from what's outside. Like sunlight. And rain. Does that remind you of anything?
It does, me. It reminds me that my faith is not to be hidden among other "trees". Among other Christians. My faith needs exposure to the Spiritual sun and rain. It needs not to be sheltered.
Point #2: The dead branches. They were the most hidden in our little forest. Right up against the house and shaded by not only the other trees, but the house itself. It got the least sunlight. So the same thing happened, some time back, that is now happening to the dogwood branches.
When they stopped being productive, the branches died. Oh, as you can see, they're still branches, but they don't count for much.
I have to wonder if that happens to us when we are not "productive" in the Great Cause of the Great Commission. And, by that, I DO NOT mean we all have to be "soul winners" .... which we really cannot do anyway ... but I DO mean we can all do our part as a member of the Savior's army, out here in the world.
Check 1 Corinthians 12. Read how you're gifted to do that which God intends for you, in the advance of the Kingdom which exists on earth.
When we're not hooked into the Source and being fed that sunshine and rain, I guess we can expect our leaves to wither sooner, and our Spiritual lives to crumble under the weight of Spiritual gravity. Oh, we'd still be branches, but looking like the Spiritual equivalent of the dead branches on that tree.
Which brings us to Point #3: Even when the branch dies, it can still be brought to life. See ... there was a tree immediately to the left of that tree, a huge one, that was dying last year. So, while the tree trimmers were here taking care of some other things, and facing winter anyway, we had them take that big tree down. And that let more sunshine, and perhaps more rain, get to the tree with the dead limbs.
They came back to life; arboreal evidence, in practical, down-to-earth terms, of the truth of Jesus' statements about vines and branches!
Our faith was never designed for our comfort or to be hidden from the outside world. To be cloistered quietly from the world's storms. The roots of our faith are more than sufficient to guarantee we will stand among the storms of life. There's no reason not to share that faith, and every reason to do that, outside the shelter of the walls of our buildings.
If you see your faith withering, put it to use. If you're hiding inside those walls, afraid to share your faith, I think Jesus' words to you might echo what He said to Lazarus: