Month: October 2014

When Life Seems Hard and the World Seems Scary

When Life Seems Hard and the World Seems Scary

  I am not known for my calm, collected manner. I imagine those who know me best chuckle at the understatement of those words. The fact of the matter is, I am scared more often than I am not. I fear the future, the unknown. […]

Grace

Grace

The gravel road stretches on in front of us, the sun setting its golden beauty to rest over the horizon. Brilliant hued fingers linger over the sky as if reluctant to fade away altogether. I notice how her hair shines so brilliantly in waning sunshine, […]

When Your Roots Are Withered and Your Branches Weary

When Your Roots Are Withered and Your Branches Weary

There was just something about the way he stated it this afternoon, the way the words marched out of his mouth. Holy words.

Hoisting a big ol’ chunk of wood up on the table, he talked about Isaiah 11:1. About the dead stump, how it couldn’t be any more dead. I stared at that stump as he taught all of those kids who come every week for snacks and games and prizes…and feast on morsels from God’s very word. Those seeds being planted now, they’ll bear fruit one day.

But I’m thinking on that stump. Dry and brittle around the edges. And I’m thinking how I feel like that some days too. Like my roots are withered and my branches weary with weight.

And he says life-changing words as he looks out at those kids.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots shall bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1

They listen to the promise in those words. About how God is in the business of life and making all things new.

And it makes me think on it. Couldn’t it be that because the Branch He sent was holy – we can be holy too?  We can be the fruit the good Branch bore.

And there on the table sits a Jesse tree. Gesturing to it, he tells them how from this ol’ stump came the most amazing family tree ever. From this stump came life.

It gets me thinking about family trees and how from the block of wood I am, He can raise up a family with a legacy of knowing Him. How He can take my failures and half-hearted attempts and make something great. Just a small shoot of faith, planted and watered by man, but bearing fruit because of God’s mighty yet intimate touch. Just that shoot can bear fruit in my family tree too. It covers us with cool shade on the days anxiety and uncertainty threaten to steal my hope. It supplies the oxygen when I forget to inhale and exhale and just. simply. breathe. That shoot promises me hope for the hard days and grace for the mundane days and thankfulness for all days. That shoot coming forth, that Branch that bears fruit, it promises me days everlasting.

That’s the thing about His Word – His promises always come true. And in Isaiah, He promised a Branch that would come forth from the family line of Jesse. In fact, the Old Testament is filled with promises about a Messiah who would come and rescue His people.

And He did – the New Testament continues this story of the most amazing family tree ever; it shows how the Messiah did come. We read about the birth of the Emmanuel, God With Us, and we talk about the manger and the angels and shepherds and swaddling clothes.

But not only did He come . . . He carved us right into His family tree, too.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman,
born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  Galatians 4:4-6

It’s in those sweet words that we are reminded that it doesn’t matter if our own roots are downright withered. It doesn’t matter if we feel like a dried up old hunk of wood, not producing any fruit, with only a mushroom and moss for adornment.It doesn’t matter because He crafted us into His tree anyway. He crafted us into His tree when we accepted His saving grace, this gift of salvation, even though He knew we’d busted up that law in stone, broke clean through those commandments.

With nail holes in hands and feet and a hole pierced in His side, He wrote our very names on His family tree. He wrote with the indelible red ink of His sacrifice, of His very life.

That hope sustains me when I feel I’m not measuring up. It breathes life into my worn-out, grown-cold faith.

When I feel like I’m just passing on the reigns of generational bondage on down my family tree, He whispers it soft, I’ve reserved a spot for you in my family.

And I feel the grin spread from my heart to my face, because it is true. God’s in the business of making all things new, and it’s been His plan since the beginning. The fall of this world…all of it… none of it took Him by surprise. He had a plan from the beginning to make all things new.

And He’s doing that work in me too.

Because Isaiah 11 ends with a joy filled promise: In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. Isaiah 11:10

From a tired old stump, God brought forth a shoot, His Branch that bore much fruit through His life and death.

The Branch still bearing fruit and bringing forth shoots in the most tired and dysfunctional family trees.

Because God is in the business of making all things new.

Isaiah 11

Sifting Through a Life

Sifting Through a Life

Suddenly it’s too much. I choke on dust and I choke on tears, and I’m choking on the memories lodged in my throat. I face the closet once more and inhale… exhale, willing the tears back, back, back. I pull out the next shirt in […]