To be perfectly honest I’m somewhat of a Jon Snow when it comes to agriculture, “I know nothing.” However, today as I tuned in to Bethel.Tv live I was hit with a powerful message given by Eric Johnson. The topic of his teaching was about evaluating how we are building our lives and what we are building it on. The teaching went on to distinguish the two places we can construct our lives: on sand (earthly things) or on solid rock (Jesus). When the storms of life come, one will remain (house built on a rock) and one will perish (one built on sand)
Being that Bethel church is way up in the forested mountains of Redding California, it didn’t shock me when Eric went on to describe a case where a seemingly perfect and healthy tree had fallen in the woods. Curious as to why he asked a friend who then explained that he had been watching this particular tree for some some time over a year. Because the area had been thinned out, which basically means selected trees were intentionally cut down in order to improve the growth rate or health of the other remaining trees, the surrounding trees that shielded this tree from the wind were removed it’s root system was not deep and strong enough to withstand the winds on its own. Being unaccustomed to the elements, lacking strength and depth the tree; although healthy, was overcome and fell.
The lesson, sometimes God will “thin out your life,” remove people and things that maybe you’ve placed all of your dependence and faith in in order to test your ability to withstand the winds of life, to bring attention to these weak areas and strengthen and deepen your root system and dependence in Him.
My story, I came of age in church. I went to a small private type of high school, geez I even went to an all women’s private college. I used to laugh and joke about it with strangers “Ive been sheltered my whole life!” While I’ve seen some things and experienced some hardships coming of age in this caaaarrrrazaay world, I can’t really say I’ve never not had someone, be it my mom, my friends, my pastor heck even my bf to fall back on when the storms of life and winds of tests and trials started to come upon me. Until, well, now.
Today I live in Orlando Fl. Hot, lizard filled, flying roach Florida… (no diss Florida) and I had never in my life felt more far away and alone. For a while I felt like God was punishing me. While I am well aware that much of my disobedience (can’t even sugar coat it) is what landed me in this predicament in the first place, I always knew that punishment wasn’t it. There was more. Much more. It was discipline. One day, as I cried woe is me for the 16th time… I clearly heard God speak to me, this period in my life wasn’t a punishment it was a pruning. Yes, I was being corrected, but I was also being developed.
“Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” – Hebrews 12:6
This was a time in my life where I was forced to face a decision that could either impact me for better or for worse for all of eternally.
Am I all in or am I all out?
Will I continue to build sandcastles and call them home or set my foundation on the rock?
Will I surrender to this process or will I kick and scream in rebellion?
(yeah there were a lot of questions..)
Short story… I surrendered. And I couldn’t be more thankful. Today I am more aware of God and myself than ever before. Knowing I’m at a place where I’m not completely alone, but I’m also not reliant on anyone else to be my savior and shield. Im learning to stand in Christ for myself. By no means am I all great and dandy now, I’ve got many miles to go. but I’m also not where I used to be and I’m grateful for that. Today I actually value my progress, and what little bit I have I don’t ever want to give it away for trash again. I dig deeper for the sake and for the love of Christ and better knowing my Father. Not because it’s part of my ministry prerequisites, my small group assignments or out of sheer obligation “weelllll, I better get today’s proverbs in before i go to bed. siigghh”
The fruits from my pruning are sprouting and sweet. I’m a part of a fantastic new church community that thrives on the gospel of truth and fills me with inspiration like never before. I’ve gotten to reconnect with my father after over 5 years and my older sister whom before now I’d only met once. I have gotten a chance to see those people and things I once thought I could never live without for they really were… (jaw dropping, what was I thinking?!) and I’ve gotten a chance to get healthy in more ways than one. But most importantly, I did it for me and I’m doing it with God. (these are just to name a few)
Just a question: Have any of you ever gone through a pruning or thinning period in your life? How did it make you feel? What did you learn from it? How has your life changed for the better now?
To watch Eric Johnson’s Bethel Sermon Click Here (it’s totally free just create a quick login to gain access)
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:6 NIV
As a new Christian, old Christian, and all Christians in between it can be hard to shed that old nature. We find that some things we used to love to do or places we loved to go are no longer good and fruitful towards our new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit within us is always guiding and directing us, speaking to us and counseling us in the ways that are righteous and pleasing to God. Love seeks to always satisfy himself with God and His will that leads to life. Therefore, it can find no delight or gratification in sin and evil whose pathways lead to death.
It can be a challenge as you begin and even continue to renew your mind in Christ and seek to live a life of love Gods way. Here are some biblical points and perspective on the issue.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 NLT
“O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.” Psalm 5:4 NLT
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10 NLT
“may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” Hebrews 13:21 NLT
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT