The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Hand and the Blade"
Before a storm blew in this afternoon, I worked on trimming a sweet olive tree in our backyard, Frances's favorite. The tree has enjoyed our rainy, warm (but not overly hot - thank You, Lord!) summer here on the Gulf Coast of the United States, growing nearly 3 feet since its spring pruning. I marveled at its gain, while stretching and sweating on my ladder to clear the branches from our roofline.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
The Christian life involves consistent growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, including seasons of steady advance, and, like the sweet olive tree this summer, of rapid increase and abundance. The former provides the norm, while the latter sometimes happens as the great Tender of our hearts sees fit to supply rain, wind, sun, and temperature in measures that result in especially quick advancement. We play a role, of course, primarily of trusting and submitting to our Heavenly Father in the realization we cannot grow ourselves, but we can maintain a heart of good soil by knowing He can.
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:6-7).
When pondering our growth in Christ, we tend to focus on particular disciplines, habits, and doings that unquestionably contribute to our ongoing spiritual development. "Exercise thyself unto godliness" wrote the Apostle Paul to Timothy, encouraging him to maintain the attitudinal and behavioral responses to God that lead to an increasing Christlikeness in character, nature, word, and deed (I Timothy 4:7). However, the focus must always remain on the One who plants, waters, nurtures, prunes, weeds, and harvests the spiritual Vine of Christ in us, and the branches we are in Him. We can no more tend ourselves than can any cultivated garden or plant, but rather confidently submit ourselves to His loving and persistent care. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).
As I wait for the rain to pass and the winds to abate so I can return to pruning the sweet olive tree, I ponder our need for the Lord's tending and cultivation. Thankfully, born again believers are cultivated plants whose growth relies primarily on the care and attention not of ourselves, but of the One to whom we belong. We play a role, but our participation must always be fulfilled in the blessed light that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10). Like the sweet olive that cannot prune itself, we require the hand and blade of Another to maintain and enhance our spiritual vitality and vibrancy. "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (II Corinthians 1:9).
Hey, the rain has slowed to a drizzle. I have work to do, which brings to mind the thought that our Father must ever say the same. I'll keep that in mind as I apply hand and blade to the sweet olive.
"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever."
Weekly Memory Verse
Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father.