A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing

“You, too, be patient and stand firm,
because the Lord’s coming is near.”
James 5:8

          Right now in my life, the raging, cold, bitter winds of adversity blow.  My entire being is hunkered down against this wind, trying to hold onto the bedrock of Christ under me, gripping with all my strength. One day I’m strong in the Lord, hope is renewed, and I believe I’ll make it.  The next day I’m gasping for air, quaking in fear, raging in anger and bitterness over my misfortunes.  Another day I’m resigned, depressed, hopeless.  Even another day the Lord lifts me into understanding and I’m humbled before Him, quietly grateful at what He’s doing and amazed at how His Word and His Spirit work together to transform us.
          This morning I received two short Truths from the Word which were written by men much older than me, one living, and one gone on to be with Christ many years ago.
          Both men talked about adversity, and how it is God’s chosen Way to build strength of character and to create His People into men and women who are substantial.  Who will handle the difficult days to come with faith and will endure to the end.  God is looking for strong trees, whose beauty is an inner beauty, that comes from Christ in them.
          I’m reminded, in my failure to stand, that the trees are buffeted and blown by God on purpose, so that they will become strong, deeply rooted, and be able to withstand the severe weather. 
          God does not grow soft, coddled trees.  The churches have become ‘tree farms’, where people are planted in rows, fed by hand, and sheltered by our comfortable surroundings, religious rituals and low standards.  We pretend, and hide our adversity, so that we won’t upset the ‘natural balance’ of the tree farm.  Storms are not allowed inside our sheltered church existence. 
          So we in the ‘tree farms’ become unable to stand in the storms of life, except when we are surrounded by all the familiar, easy things we’ve come to rely on.  In the day of adversity we fall, and we are powerless and useless.
          Have you been to the ocean?  Trees that stand near the ocean are as tough and resilient as any on earth.  Their roots have driven deep into the rocks.  They are hardened and battle-scarred, but they rarely break, even in the stiffest winds.  That’s because they are tested and tried by the constant wind and adverse weather conditions, even from the time they are seedlings.  As Jesus said, the seed is sown, and only in some cases does it bear fruit, and produce thirty-sixty-a hundred-fold.  Many will fall away when they discover that adversity is part of the deal.  The ocean trees have stuck, and grown anyway, by the power of God within them.
          Ocean trees may look gnarled, and twisted, and they certainly wouldn’t win any beautiful tree contests, but they stand.  And that’s what God wants from each of us who claim Christ.  God is working these things in us through the power of His Spirit, and though we often fail, we must get back up and stand again, this time longer, this time handling it better, and grow.
          Brothers and sisters, sometimes it’s better to be ugly and holding fast to Christ, than to be beautiful in the eyes of the world!  


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