I have several young trees growing around my house, two one-year olds (an oak and a hickory), two two-year olds (also an oak and a hickory), and a three-year old oak. Because they are young and don’t have very deep root systems, I carry water out to them every day. That daily inspection lets me observe their growth, or lack of it. There are week-long periods when there is no growth at all. Then, suddenly, new buds appear on the tops, and out grows a several inch long branch with unfolding leaves at the top. Its a slow growth, but very rewarding.
Just like people, these trees have growth spurts. And between those growth spurts are periods of adjustment where everything seems to remain the same. Its like a sabbath for the trees. But, beneath the surface of the soil, the roots are getting established during those quiet times. They are stretching deeper into the soil to reach water so they can grow new branches and leaves up top.
When you feel like you’re sitting still in your spiritual development, waiting for the next growth spurt, let your roots go deeper in Christ. You’ll need them in the next growth spurt.
Have you heard the story about the husband and wife who were driving down the street one day? The wife looked over at her husband and said, “Honey, when we were first married we used to sit close together. But as the years have gone by, we seem to have grown apart. There you are sitting behind the wheel on your side of the car and here I am on my side.”
The husband looked over at his wife and said, “I haven’t moved.”
That’s what had happened in Israel at the end of the Old Testament. God hadn’t moved, yet God’s people had grown apart from God. The nation of Israel had been in captivity in Babylon for many years. Finally they had returned to their homeland, but they were still far from God. They had restored the temple, but they had been going about their daily lives, leaving God out. They had been withholding their tithes and spending it on themselves.
The prophet Malachi brought Israel this word from the Lord, “You have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7).
Two college roommates were studying in their room one evening when one of them defiantly slammed his book shut and announced, “I’m tired of studying! I’m quitting school.”
“But I thought you wanted to be a doctor,” his roommate said.
“Yes, I do, and that’s the problem,” he answered. “I want to be a doctor, but I sure don’t want to go through all it takes to become a doctor.”
Whatever God calls you to do, there’s almost always a time of preparation that precedes it. At times that training period may seem too long, but you can rest in the knowledge that if you are patient, in God’s perfect time you will stand ready, fully equipped to do His will.
“Still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
41 years ago Anita and I made a honeymoon trip through Canada and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We spent one night in a tiny little cabin near Hulbert Lake, and ate a meal at Hulbert Lake Lodge. We were so enamored with that quiet little lodge that the following year we spent a week in one of their rustic cabins on the lake. It was managed by Greg and Marge Curtis, and Anita really hit it off with Marge.
Last week Anita and I decided to drive over there for old times sake. The tiny little cabin beside the road was still there, although not in use. And the Hulbert Lake Lodge hadn’t changed much over the years. We grabbed a flyer from the dining hall that said it was managed by Marge Curtis. So we drove to where she could be found and looked her up. She was the same today as 41 years ago, although a little older. We had a nice visit and even got to pray for her.
There are people you’ve met along the way that left a lasting impression on your mind. God had put them there in your path for a specific purpose. Although it may have been a short-term connection, it served God’s purpose. Remember who they are and pray for them.
This is my first day back in the office after a two-week vacation. We spent a couple of days in St. Ignace enjoying the low humidity. We ate fish at a different restaurant every night and I gained 4 pounds!
We spent a day at Mackinac Island. We’ve been there twice before so we tried to see some things we hadn’t seen before, and it was well worth the visit.
After spending the day touring some interesting places, we headed back to the Shepler’s Dock for our return trip. We were 30 feet from entering the dock when someone touched my shoulder. It was Mark Aspy, who was our first Associate Pastor back around 1990 when we were still in the old building. Mark and Angie now pastor a church not far from Ludington. We had a great visit with them and their grandkids.
What are the odds that we would be there at the same time and just happen to bump into each other? Its coincidences like this that keep me believing. What will God do next?
This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) we’ll be beginning a teaching series we’re calling ‘Follow Me’. We’ll be looking at some of the key discipleship principles observed in the Bible. New Hope has a slogan: ‘Making Disciples who Make Disciples’. But a slogan that doesn’t act like it says is meaningless.
The pastoral staff at New Hope is going to be digging deep to extract the models of how to make other disciples, which is better known as mentoring. Bring your Bibles and come expecting God to open new doors of understanding what your faith was meant to be. The revival you’ve been praying for only comes through disciples who make more disciples. Come and see.
There are professional companies who specialize in deep sea salvage operations. Some have recovered gold doubloons and silver ingots from ancient shipwrecks. Another actually lifted a sunken Civil War submarine from its grave. They even made a thorough survey of the wreck of the Titanic. Yet another company has made a fortune surveying the bottom of the Indian Ocean trying to find that Indonesian airliner that went down last year.
The prophet Micah once said to God, “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). The “depths of the sea” refers to how deeply they are buried. Yet, there are many, like deep sea salvage operators, that go digging deep to bring those sins back to the surface again. No matter how deeply God buries them, we can still bring them back to the surface. Even skeletons in the closet resurface to our minds. That’s because the Battlefield for a Christian is in our minds.
Paul said, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus“.(Romans 8:1). Keep the past buried where it belongs.