Don’t you just love little kids and what they say? I was having dinner with my grandson this week and my daughter was telling me he had gotten into a bit of trouble with the teacher last week. Apparently he had not finished his homework on time. The teacher asked him, “Brycen, why isn’t your homework done? You’ve had a whole week to do it.” He looked the teacher in the eye and said, “I’m a busy guy. I didn’t have time to complete it!” Needless to say, mom got a call and the issue of unfinished homework was resolved.
As I was hearing the story I asked, “What kind of homework could you possibly have in kindergarten anyways?” He was telling me he had to practice his letters and read a book every week. I said, “Do you know how to read already?” His answer was, “I’m working on it Grandma!”
Yesterday Jim and I went to breakfast at our favorite Saturday morning pancake house for brunch. Neither of us wanted to stare at the wall behind us so we both sat on the same side of the table that faced out to a huge wall of windows. As we were sitting there waiting for our food, it came to my attention that there was one tree out of several planted in a row that still had all of its dead leaves from fall hanging on it. I laughed because I thought maybe it was not a real intelligent tree or something…maybe confused a bit? I said something to Jim and he said oak trees do that. I looked into it and found out that oak trees are the only deciduous trees that hang onto their leaves until winter once they die. Most trees shed their leaves in the fall as they die as a means of survival through the cold winters.
As I pondered this scenario, I thought the tree just looked a bit silly for hanging onto all of those dead leaves…oak or not. Then my thoughts went immediately to Christians. Have you ever met someone who says they are a Christian but never seem to be able to shed the old dead life and embrace their new life in Christ? I think perhaps others look at them and think the same thing I thought about the oak tree…don’t they look silly? Perhaps they’ve already learned that if the new believer would just let go of the old and give God control, it is a lot easier to move forward in the new life. However, some of us just come into our new lives with more baggage than others. I’m not saying it’s OK to remain in the sinful activities we once did as an unbeliever. However, we must let go of the reigns of our lives and allow God to work in our new lives to help us make changes. This is how we survive and thrive as Christians. We can choose to give it all over quickly and easily or we can hang onto the old and take more time getting to the fullness of the salvation we have received once He’s had the time to do His work in us.
When I think of oak trees, I think they’re a pretty strong tree. So this analogy wasn’t working real effectively because I couldn’t criticize them for doing what they were created to do. The fact is, the oak tree gets to where the other trees do but only when new growth from within their branches forces the leaves to fall to the ground. This being unlike most other trees who recognize that the dead leaves are hazardous to their well being and allow them to fall away quickly so they can survive the winter and make room for new life in the spring. I’m making this sound like the trees have a mind and a choice on how this process works. However, they don’t. They are just doing what God created each one of them to individually do in order to make it through this life. He knows what’s going to be best for each one so He helps each, individually, make its way to full and healthy maturity.
I think the lesson is this. We as Christians have all accepted God’s gift of salvation in our lives and each one of us has a path to travel in order to receive our new life in its fullest dimension. We can’t look at the person next to us who needs to hang onto the old life a little longer before they fully understand their new gift and judge them like they are false or not good Christians. God created each one of us differently. So what if we don’t fit the mold of a model new believer? I’m not saying it’s OK to continue in our sin. But if we truly seek God and His wisdom, He will work from within to help us purge the old stuff out of our lives so that He can bring new growth to us in His time.
Is there something that is hindering you from letting go of the past? Do you feel a little silly when you look around and no one else seems to be struggling like you? Don’t worry. Keep praying and be patient. God has a plan just for you. He’s already at work helping you from within even when you don’t see the evidence on the outside yet. For when it is the right season, God will bless you and give you more than you ever imagined. Don’t look at your struggles as a sign of weakness. Even though the oak tree takes its time as opposed to others, it is a very strong and noble tree. Just as you too, in God’s time will be strong and wise as you allow God to work in your life, helping you to push out the things in your life that are pulling you down.
So don’t allow others to question you or judge you for the path God is taking you on. Rather, as Brycen might do, look them in the eye and say, “Even though God is a very busy Guy, He has all the time in this world to help me make it through this life here on earth. This Christianity thing is going to take me some time to perfect, but don’t you worry…God and I are working on it!”
2 Corinthians 5:17(NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Philippians 1:6, 9-11(NKJV) …being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; … And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.