For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant.
Restoration. That’s what these verses paint a picture of. Life from death. Beauty from ashes. It’s a familiar thought – one that reminds me of the brokenness of my past and the glorious resurrection of the new creation I now am.
“At the scent of water…”
It sounds so deep, but when you really think about it, it’s a little strange. I’ve never really known water to have a scent. There’s that “just rained” smell after a good storm, but other than that, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the scent of water. But these verses state that at the scent of water, at it’s slightest presence, a dead tree will burst forth into life. Again, it sounds great, but is it really true? Can something that was once dead, cut off, decayed come back to life?
But of course! I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. In my life and in the lives of others. I’ve seen the Lord take broken, rotting, corpses and breathe life into them. I’ve seen Him get up close and personal with the rotting flesh of our sinful selves, not hesitating in the slightest to be near us in our low estate. I remember the staleness of the air in my lungs before He captured my heart, and with each new breathe, I’m reminded of the freedom I have with Him. You see, the Lord takes broken, ugly, dead things and makes them whole. He makes them beautiful and complete in Him.
When I think back to who I was before the Lord really grabbed a hold of my heart, I cower in shame. My past is filled with regrets and guilt and bad decisions in every arena of my life. But then I remember, I am not who I once was because the Lord graciously plucked me out of the hole I was in, and placed me on higher ground, on a firm foundation, on Christ the solid rock Himself. And because of the mercy and grace that was extended to me, I was able to to enter the land of the living, the Kingdom of my great and glorious King! The funny thing about this whole “life from death/beauty from ashes” thing is this: I was never really alive before I knew the Lord, I was never really beautiful before I knew the Lord. And even now, it is not me that lives, it is not me that is beautiful, but CHRIST in me.
The beauty that I now claim is directly related to the love of Christ that compels me. The life that I now enjoy is rooted in the knowledge of Christ. I enjoy life because I know Him. Although my life is not free from heartache or suffering, I am joyful in the Lord and the hope He brings.
Daily, I’m reminded of my faults and failures, of all my shortcomings. My insecurities cloud my mind and affect my judgement. I request the Lord to do His will in my life, but then I push and pull until His will bends to mine. Only afterwards do I realize the error of my ways. I can be patient for a while, but eventually I act in haste and out of frustration. I fail daily. And I know that there will be consequences for my actions. Despite this, I know the Lord does not shy away from me. He isn’t repulsed by me. He hates my sin, but He loves me with a love that can never be tarnished.
I am the tree described in Job. Cut down, dead, rotten. Just like the tree in Job put out branches at the scent of water, I, at the slightest measure of mercy mingled with grace, was brought back to life. And though I quite often find myself drying up, withering away, that same mercy mingled with grace is extended to me again. I grab hold of it with weak but grateful arms. I breathe Him in, and I am made new again. My lungs fill with fresh air, my bones grow strong. My forgetfulness, guilt, and apathy are replaced with wonder at His saving grace and His never-failing faithfulness.
Friend, you too are like the tree described in Job.
For those of you who can’t relate at all to this post, know that if and when a period of brokenness begins in your life, the Lord will sustain you. As you endure the struggle, you may feel like there’s no escape, you may feel trapped, buried alive under the weight of all you carry. Should such a time ever come, know with confidence that the Lord will rebuild you in His time and according to His purpose. He is the most skillful Architect, the wisest Engineer. When He rebuilds things, He makes them stronger, better equipped to handle the storms of life that are yet to come. And you better believe that He knows just how strong those winds will be and how much He must grow you in order to withstand them!
For those of you who feel like your life is crumbling down all around you, know this: the Lord is your Maker, He is your Father, He cares for you deeply. He does not experience joy in your pain. He sees your suffering and He hurts as you hurt (Psalm 31:7, Exodus 3:7-8). He has not abandoned you and will never leave you. Turn to Him. Allow Him to bring life to your bones.
For those of you who feel like you’re beyond repair because you’ve screwed up too much to be made new in Him, know that you are wrong. Straight up wrong. To think that the death of the Lord Jesus on that cross was not ENOUGH to pay for your sins is profane. He died for you. So that YOU could live. So embrace Him and discover LIFE – because trust me, you haven’t truly lived unless you have been raised up with Him! THAT is LIVING (Colossians 3:3-4)!
For those of you who feel empty and restless, know that the Lord is your Peace and the Giver of every good thing. He will fill you to overflowing and quiet your spirit. What was once void and lifeless will be made fruitful and vibrant. Drink deep from the spring of Life itself and you will never thirst again (John 4:14-15). He will water you and prune you into the object of His glory. Allow Him to fill you, grow you shape you.
For those of you who feel worthless, insignificant, know that you are of great worth to the Father. He rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)! And honestly, who does that? Only a righteous and loving Father for the apple of His eyes, His precious child whom He loves to no end! He will joyfully give up anything and everything in pursuit of you. In fact, He already has. Realize this truth.
Restoration. From brokenness, from chaos, from sinfulness, from emptiness, from worthlessness. That is what He offers. That is what He promises us. And let me tell you, when my Jesus makes a promise, He keeps it! Not only does He keep His promises, but He tops them off with blessings upon blessings! He’s not your typical, “meet the minimum standards” kind of guy. He’s an overachiever to the nth power.
For if there is hope for a tree that is cut down, its stump dead, its roots decayed, then there is even more hope for us – creations of the Most High God, made in His own image, purposed for a specific calling for the glory of His Name.
If there is hope for a tree, there is certainly hope for you and me.