Fear Exposed. Day thirty-seven...
My wife and I have some acreage west of town we refer to as our chunk of paradise. The land is covered with mature trees, and this beautiful stand of timber is filled with deer and wild turkey. When I get around to it, we'll eventually build a house out there. But for now I use the property as my private gym; I lift rocks and tree limbs instead of lifting weights.
For a guy who used to own a furniture factory and consumed acres and acres of timber to feed my production lines, I am probably not too believable in the role of a tree conservationist. But I do everything within my power to keep the trees on our property alive and healthy.
I'm not going to live long enough to grow one of those magnificent old‐timers that have been around for more than century. And even if I had a budget to plant trees the size of the one in the picture, it's not the same as being surrounded by trees reaching a hundred feet into the air.
About a quarter of a mile back into the timber I have two or three acres cleared for a front yard. And the house will be sited to take advantage of some huge hickories and white oaks in what will be the back yard.
Mature trees are more important to me than any house. I can rebuild a house but I can't grow a tree. And God has used my trees to teach me about “kingdom living.” So I want to share with you this very practical illustration of just how radically different the kingdom operates than does the world.
My illustration takes place in the spring of 2012.
We had been experiencing severe drought conditions in our area since the spring of 2011. During the summer of that year I had noticed several trees starting to show signs of distress; and had thought out loud, “This simply cannot be happening.” So I had decided to pray.
But I hadn't prayed just one prayer. I had prayed for every distressed tree I could see as I walked down the driveway and around the house site. I'm not talking about a general prayer; I walked up to every single distressed tree and prayed over it. And as preventive medicine, every big tree was also prayed for, even if there were no signs of distress. I did this throughout the fall and the winter. (I say this neither to impress you nor to make you think I'm nuts. I say this to show you my passion for trees.)
And ever since the weather had started to warm up, I had anxiously watched the trees for signs of new leaves. The date was April 17, 2012 and my heart sank as I noticed just how many trees were not leafing out. I finally had to admit to myself that hundreds of my beautiful trees were dead. They weren't going to snap out of it with the warmer weather and the spring rains. (There had been no spring rains [the drought actually continued until early in 2013]). My trees were dead.
Here is the entry from my journal for that day:
*beginning of entry*
This morning as I was tending to the burn‐pile …, I was looking at some of my distressed and some of my (from all appearances) dead trees. God began to speak to me in thoughts which I will paraphrase:
“I want you to train yourself to see life when you see something dead.”
“I don't want you to avoid looking at things that are dead. I don't want you to pretend or imagine they are not dead. I want you to look at something that's dead and see life.”
What was He talking about? I began to put other scenarios together in my mind:
- Look at lack and see abundance
- Look at problems and see solutions
- Look at despair and see hope
- Look at sickness and see health
But I knew He was not asking me to go into an intentional state of denial.
*end of entry*
Can you imagine my confusion?
In the middle of my grief God spoke to me about something that made absolutely no sense at the time. My most important material possessions were dying right in front of my eyes, and God was asking me to see life.
I would never be able to make any sense out of this from a worldly perspective. This had to be understood from a kingdom perspective.
When I finished up what I was doing, I headed back to the house to write all this down. As I was looking through the Bible I added the following to this entry:
*beginning of entry*
Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:1–3 KJV)
Annotation for Isaiah 45:3:
Darkness (H2822) chosek: A literal darkness. Symbolically associated with disorder and is distinguished and separated from light (from AMG's Complete Word Study Dictionaries ‐ The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament).
There is treasure in the darkness or God could not give it.
*end of entry*
I had no idea where God was going with this. He wanted me to look at something that's dead and see life. And all I could get from His Word was the reality that there has to be treasure in the darkness or God could not give me that treasure.
But I did know I had to get out of a worldly perspective. I had to put on a kingdom mindset and pay attention to what God was teaching me from a kingdom perspective.
The rest of the story tomorrow….
Have a good day,