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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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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

Shimmering Salutations

Hello, Sun

I almost didn’t recognize you

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you

My goodness, you haven’t aged at all

You look the same as I last remember

Me? Not much has changed

I’ve grown a little since I’ve seen you last

In whatever state I’m in

I’ve learned to be content

Even if it means

Not seeing you for a stint

The illusion of pain

Caused by the rain

Produces the grain that feeds hungry brains

So I’ve learned to need the rain

Although I must say

I love the way you shower me with gifts in spring

You spread diamonds across the tops of oceans and seas

For all to see

As they shimmer with infatuation

From the gaze of your attention

And it’s all beautiful to me.

BE

Copyright Symbol black Copyright March 2014, Brian Evans for Wisdom’s Quill

Indestructible Beauty

As I approached the exit of my workplace, I noticed the wind and rain was especially boisterous.  I was initially hesitant to proceed, because I didn’t have my umbrella, but then I decided to “man-up” and make a mad dash for my car.  “Here goes,” I said to myself in a futile effort to psych myself out before I tore the door open and began my sprint to my car.  The rain was cold and the parking lot was a muddy mess; as rivers coursed across the pavement.  Upon approaching my car, I saw a peculiar-looking object lying on the ground.  I slowed my pace, as my curiosity got the best of me, so that I could make sense of what I was seeing.  Much to my surprise, right there on the pavement in the mud and rain was a single, solitary red rose.  I assumed someone had dropped it as they were en route to their destination.  As I gave pause in the rain to take in the scene, the writer in me was immediately awakened.  Prose and poems permeated my mind because of the paradox I was beholding.  From this paradox I would like to lift some simple truths to share with you. 

 

Your Beauty is Indestructible

Have you ever thought about what makes a rose (or any flower for that matter) so beautiful?  Roses have the unique ability to captivate us with their visual and aromatic appeal.  No matter the setting, climate, or variety roses are simply beautiful, and their beauty is indestructible.  When I saw the rose lying on the ground in the rain, it caught my eye.  On such an ugly day (from my perspective) surrounded by such ugly conditions (rain, mud, broken pavement) this rose was still beautiful.  The harsh, external conditions didn’t diminish the innate splendor and appeal of the rose.  In fact, I would venture to say, the beauty of the rose was heightened, because the surrounding conditions were so obscure.   

You may be in an ugly situation today, with mudslides and potholes all around you, but your life is like that rose.  You’re amazing because God made you that way.  According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God makes all things beautiful.  God is working on something in you, and even though you may not look like it right now, you are a masterpiece in the making.  Some of the most beautiful gems start off as dirty, undesirable rocks.  However, with the right amounts of pressure, heat and time precious jewels are born. 

 

The Beauty of Connection

We are in an age where almost everyone is obsessed with physical, exterior beauty.  Unfortunately, this obsession has perverted the true ideal of what beauty really is.  Furthermore, one may ask, “What determines beauty?”  I believe out connections enhance our intrinsic beauty.  You can tell a lot about a person based on their connections.  It is vital to know what connections give you life and fulfillment.  These are what I refer to as essential connections.  Three of my essential connections are as follows:

God

Family

Writing

I won’t bore you with a long list of what inspires me, but I encourage you to spend time discovering what those connections are for you, and the power and beauty they usher into your life. 

One solemn fact that later dawned on me about the rose in the rain was there was no connection.  Even though the rose possessed residual beauty, I knew what the ineluctable fate of that rose would be:  Death by disconnection.

In much the same way, when we fail to connect with our Source (God) and what gives us life, we wither.  Our beauty fades when we remain disconnected from our creator and our purpose.  Psalm chapter one illustrates what proper connection looks like.  When we remain connected to God through meditation and communion, we become productive and flourish in our seasons.  Remember, your life is a stunning bouquet designed to reflect God’s beauty.  Your external circumstances will never be able to destroy your intrinsic glory, because your beauty is and will always be indestructible.

I would love to hear from you.  What are some of your essential connections?  Who inspires you to pursue greater? 

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

BE