WARNING: The Withering Process

Recently, I decided to surprise my beautiful wife with a bouquet of flowers, being the romantic husband that I am (smile).  As I walked into the store, I was met with a spectacular array of colored petals of all shapes and sizes.  It took a degree of deliberation to decide which bouquet to choose, and after inquiring about the differences between the blooms, I proudly made my decision.  Of course, when I walked through the door of our home with the bouquet in my grasp, I was rewarded with tears of joy from my Lady. 

A few weeks have gone by and the bouquet I purchased is still on our kitchen table, but it has undergone some serious changes; it’s not the same robust nosegay that provoked tears of joy from my wifey that fine day. Instead, it bears the effects of disconnection.  Jesus warns against choosing to live a life that is separated from Him:

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned”  (John 15:6, KJV)

 

Since Jesus is our life source, one of the consequences of being disconnected from Him is spiritual withering.  On multiple occasions in scripture, children of God are compared to trees.  Trees must have certain necessities like water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide in order to survive.  When it comes to our spiritual health we are no different.  We are people of power because we are people of prayer.  Apart from Him, we can do nothing…we simply cannot function.  Jesus gives us the formula for abiding in Him in John 15:10

   “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kepy my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (KJV)

 

 A Slow Death

The process of withering is deceptive.  When I brought the bouquet of flowers home for my wife, they were vibrant, fragrant, and bursting with color.  As time passed, the reality of the bouquet’s plight became apparent.  Weeks later as I passed by the bouquet, I noticed that all of the petals were falling off onto the table, and the leaves were now dry and lifeless.  The effects of withering are never immediate, and herein lies the great deception.  There is a dichotomy, here, that I would like to explore.  Although we are drawn to the sheer aestetic beauty of the flowers that we see on display, they have already begun to die a slow death.  If we don’t remain vigilant in prayer, we become suseptible to the following deception:

 Since everything around me looks pretty, that must mean there is still life flowing within me. 

We start trying to manipulate the outward appearance in an effort to maintain the pretty colors of our ministries, marriages, and reputations; because these are the things that people can see.  Many times we are shocked when the spiritual leaders of our day tragically fall.  It may seem like  it happens all at once, but if we were to pull back the covers of their private prayer lives, we may be surprised to find that the withering process began long before the actual fall took place.  There is a sobering quote by J. C. Ryle that sums it up nicely:

“Backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.”

Lack of prayer and Bible study cuts us off from our source, the True Vine, thus initiating the death process.  Although the process may be slow, it is sure, and in time the signs of our disconnection will begin to show.   

Things are not always what they seem, and if we’re not careful, our lives will wither due to disconnection from God.  The petals may be full of color, and the stems may appear to be strong and vigorous for now, but eventually the flowers die; the life sap that is only supplied by the vine is no longer accessible.  Jesus stated:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing”  (John 15:5, KJV) 

       

Residual vs. Actual 

One day I asked my wife why did she like to keep flowers around for so long.  Even after they were completely lifeless and shrivelled up, she found pleasure in them somehow.  She told me that it wasn’t the flowers themselves that she only loved, rather it was the memory she had of the day I brought them to her.  This made me think about something pretty interesting.  Many times, we are so in love with the residual memory of what once was, we don’t pay attention to the reality of what actually is.  There may have been a time when you were on fire for God; you prayed and read the Bible everyday.  Now, you may not pray at all, and the Bible is just a nice book of stories that has found a cozy place on your bedroom end table.  In spite of this, there is a part of you that may still feel as if you’re “on fire” for God.  You see yourself in the light of what used to be instead of what actually is.  Don’t be deceived by the residual image of your former prayer life.  Ignite the flames again and reconnect with the Father now. 

When was the last time you and the Father had quality time together? 

Are you producing the robust fruit of the Spirit that only comes from a vital connection to God according to Galatians chapter 5?

Only you can answer yes or no to these questions honestly, and I encourage you to do so. 

Private prayer and Bible study ensures that we stay connected with our life-source who is Jesus Christ.  We must be cognizant of the importance of connecting with Christ daily by reading the Word and private prayer.  The fact is, we are all like sheep prone to straying away from our sheepfold if we don’t guard our hearts as we traverse through this life. 

Here at Wisdom’s Quill, there is never any condemnation or judgement concerning your walk with God.  I am always committed to fostering change, and presenting perspectives that may not have previously entertained.  It’s never too late to reconnect with the Father.  I admonish you to talk to Him now.  He’s always waiting to hear from us, even if it has been awhile, God promised to never turn any of  His children away when we approach Him.  Boldly go to the Father to obtain the grace that He promised. 

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”   (John 6:37, KJV)  

 


 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

Editor: Jaime Evans

BE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Zero Visibility

 For we walk by faith, not by sight…[2 Corinthians 5:7]


As I turned the door handle to exit my home, the morning breeze wrapped around my face and kissed my cheeks as I walked to my car.  My senses were a bit more heightened than usual because of the brisk autumn air.  The pep in my step was restored as I enthusiastically took in a deep breath and savored the cool air as it entered my lungs.  The incessant rain had come and gone, and left a dense layer of fog in its wake.  In fact, I had not seen fog that dense since I was a lad.  My drive to work was slow and steady, as I struggled to see.  The fog was so thick, it was like driving through a huge cloud.  I couldn’t see opposing traffic until the headlights of each automobile zoomed past me.   Although I fancy myself an experienced driver, I was a little intimidated, because I was experiencing what meteorologists call zero visibility.

Many times I’ve found my walk with God to be much like driving in fog.  You don’t realize how scary driving can be until you lose visibility.  Our emotions, decisions, and lives are driven by not only what we see around us, but also how we see what is around us.  Examine your present situation.  Are there areas in your life where you are experiencing zero visibility?  You know God is working on your behalf and for your good, because you love Him…but because you can’t see far enough ahead to know how things are going to work out, your journey becomes foggy.

2 Corinthians 5:7 brings to light an important truth for the believer.  We live our lives in a constant state of flux between the visible and the invisible.  When I first read this scripture, I understood it to mean that we don’t live our lives by what we see, but rather by believing and standing on what God has already said in His word.  That’s powerful indeed, but closer examination of this scripture casts light upon a different revelation.  The fact that we walk by faith and not by sight unfurls the truth that sometimes faith is all we have to light our path.  It’s not that we don’t like what we see in front of us at the time, so we choose to walk by faith; that’s not what this scripture implies.  Rather think about it this way, sometimes, we simply just can’t see in front of us, so our faith in God is the only light we have.  When our vision fails, and our visibility is severely handicapped, we can’t stop moving.  Just because I couldn’t see as I was driving through the thick, foggy cloud, doesn’t mean that I could have just stopped in the middle of the road until things got better.  I had to keep moving.  I had to keep driving.  Here’s a word for you:

For where you are right now, it’s more detrimental for you to stop moving, than it is to keep moving with limited visibility.

I may not have been able to see as far as I normally could, but I was able to see just far enough ahead of me to keep my foot on the accelerator.  So, I say this to you…

You may not be able to see as far into your situation as you would like to.  You may not be able to see how your story is going to culminate from where you stand; but KEEP DRIVING.  God always gives you enough light to take the next step:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…[Psalm 119:105]

Faith in God gives us the power to keep pressing the accelerator.  Keep on driving.

Be encouraged, my friends.  Fog is a good thing.  Why?  I remember asking my mother to explain fog to me when I was a young child.  This is what she told me…

Fog happens when the clouds come down from heaven and kiss the earth below.  It means the rain is over, and soon the sun is  going to shine.

You may be in a foggy season in your life now, and you’re wondering if the sun is going to ever shine again.  I just drove through the fog to tell you that heaven is about to kiss your life.  The fog is lifting, and the sun is about to shine upon you again.

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning [Psalm 30:5]

Editor: Jaime Evans


Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

 

Wisdom Wednesday: When Brooks Run Dry

When it is time for young eagles to learn how to fly, the mother eagle begins to engage in a phenomenon known as “stirring the nest.”  This process causes the nest, which was once the eaglet’s primary source of comfort and protection; to become a bed of thorns.  Consequently, the eaglet has nowhere else to go but out of the plush confines of the nest, into the frontier of the firmament, via flight.  At first glance, it seems cruel that the mother eagle would push her young out of the place that she toiled so selflessly to prepare and protect, but for the eaglet “stirring the nest” necessary.  Everything about the eagle screams…FLIGHT!  It was never meant to be confined to the nest.  With an average wing span of 6-8 feet, light-weight bones, and the ability to fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet, the adult eagle was born to soar (see works cited below).  I wish I could say that the journey to perfect flight is a pretty one, but it’s not.  At first, there are many failed attempts at flight, but eventually, the eaglet leaves the nest behind, never to return.   

 As it is with the eagle, so goes the saga of the child of God.  Many times, development is halted due to comfort.  Our lifestyle of ease sometimes whispers a sweet lullaby in our ears, causing our passion for God to drift into a deep, cold sleep.  If necessity is the mother of all invention, according to Plato, then I believe that complacency is its demise.  Our greatest victories are born out of our greatest anguish.  We must never lose sight of the purpose of pain.  Yes…pain is unavoidable and sometimes can be borderline unbearable.  Even though this is true, pain is not a death sentence.  In most cases, it is God’s way of pointing us to a new place of provision and power.  Don’t let the pain paralyze you… 

 

KEEP MOVING!

In 1 Kings 17, Elijah the Tishbite prophesied famine and drought in the land of Israel.  Ironically, he was an inhabitant of Israel at that time as well.  However, because he was a true prophet, God compelled him to go to the Brook Cherith, which was a tributary of the Jordan River.  There, God commanded the ravens to feed Elijah bread and meat twice a day (how about that for delivery).  Although, it wasn’t the best of conditions, compared to the rest of Israel during that time, Elijah had access to a smorgasbord of sorts.  As time passed, however, the inevitable happened.  The nice, fresh brook, that flowed at Elijah’s feet began to dry up because of the drought.   

 

OBEDIENCE UNLOCKS PROVISION

What do you do when the brook dries up?

What do you do when the ravens disappear?

What do you do when what used to be a blessing, now seems more like a curse?

You stand still and know that God is God.

As in Elijah’s case, God redirects us based on provision.  If you are experiencing a drought in any area of your life now, I speak to you, right where you are, and admonish you to never give up.  Every dry place in your life is God’s compass pointing you in the direction of new provision.  Acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:6).

In the midst of the drought and famine, God directed Elijah to an obscure, little town on the outskirts of Israel called Zarephath.  There, he found a widow gathering sticks for a fire, so that she could bake what would have been the last meal for her and her son.  Does this seem strange to you?  It sure seems strange to me.  If I were God, I would have sent Elijah to one of the richest people in the land.  Surely they would have had enough to spare to feed Elijah until the famine was over. I definitely wouldn’t have chosen a struggling widow.  That’s why I love God.  This particular widow had lost hope and was planning to starve to death after eating this one last meal.  Little did she know that God had other plans.  At the request of the prophet, this woman raised great faith and baked a cake for Elijah first (symbolic of first fruits), then one for her and her son.  According to the word of God that came from Elijah, the widow’s last serving of meal and oil turned into an unending supply that lasted through the end of the famine.  Because of her obedience, she thrived while others died in the same conditions. 

 

GOD NEVER MOVES YOU UNTIL HE PROVES YOU

When the brook dries up, and the meals become irregular, don’t forget who your source is.  You may be looking death in the face, because you’ve used your very last and now you’re out of options; don’t forget who your source is.  God is never limited or intimidated by your necessity.  It may surprise you to know that He is the one who designed it.  Why?  It all boils down to one thing…GLORY.  In spite of the drought, God’s plans for you have not changed.  According to Jeremiah 29:11, He already has a plan to prosper you and give you hope.  He’s proving you now so that He can put you on display for His glory. 

Remember…you were made to SOAR!!! 

Now mount up.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

 

 Works cited:  www.baldeagleinfo.com

Special thanks to my friend, Joe Torres, for furnishing the photograph used for this post.

 

 Editor: Jaime Evans

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE