Wednesday, October 07, 2009

GOD HAS A TREE


“God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.”

Peter MarshallThe soft glow of light came through a single window. Though faintly seen, it gave relief. I was tired and eager for a soft bed, but my heart leaped with excitement to see the gleam of a lamp through the panes. A rush of anticipation seized my thoughts. To walk to the door. To tap on its hard wood. To hear its familiar creak as it widely opened. To see my mother's small frame standing in her tiny kitchen. To hug her neck and see her rejoice as she held her our little sons. To walk in and inhale the purity of a place that alone could feel so safe and smell so unmistakably distinct. To be home.

Through our early years of long distance living, the same scenario played again and again. Jeff and I would plan the day. We would set a leaving time, a particular hour, and anxiously await departure like two wrens perched two minutes from dawn.

It was a joyful time of forward thinking and living! The hope of soon-to-come distilled our loneliness and added life to our lives. Yes, we had our own sweet nest, which we so loved. And our call to the ministry was without regret. The sacrifice of nearness of extended family was ours to make, and we did so willingly, by God's grace, with joy, and in peace.

But how grateful we were for those few moments of the special soothing presence of mothers, grandmothers, brothers, and sisters and others. It was ease and removal of pain for two young lives who had come to know the grief and stress of bearing God's call; for while our baptism of ministry fire had brought new mothers, and brothers, and sisters, it had also brought new knowledge of the ways and means and labor in God's vineyard. That some well-meaning or not so well-meaning people say and do hurtful things.

We soon came to realize that such was part of our sacrifice. That if God so allowed bitter words, He was only using them for a sweet purpose. And that the cross was our only hope for removing the stinging acid that could eat away our souls.

No one enjoys the thought of drinking from Marah. God's chosen people were dismayed and murmured against Moses when a three-day journey in the desert brought them to that bitter place. Thirsty, dry, exhausted, they discovered waters that seemed an oasis but were quickly declared sour. It may have seemed to them a cruel gesture. They must have hastily remembered the sweet waters of the Nile, widely known for its pleasant, smooth taste.

And the Israelites didn't waste a moment. Their complaints about Moses' leadership were vociferous. "'What are we going to drink?' they demanded."

He didn't know. Didn't have a clue. But, Moses turned to God. He realized his helplessness. The wilderness life was new to him, too. And Moses knew the company was too tired to continue. There was no other source. BUT GOD!

In response, in faith, Moses, lifted his voice to the Lord, and God heard him and showed him a piece of wood, a tree. Moses threw the wood into the water, and the molecules of the bitter were altered. It became sweet, drinkable liquid, perfect H2O. And their thirsty, parched bodies were satisfied.

Now, I have to confess to you that I can feel no judgement toward the Israelites when I read Exodus chapter 15. I am not sure I would have responded any other way than they. No, it's not very spiritual, but had I and my family been without water in a vast nomad's land for three days, my patience would have been thin. In my thirst and desperation, I, too, would probably have cried and complained. I can only hope and pray that I would have ultimately lifted my soul to God as my source.

A sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon speaks to our need to always realize God as our source. And, within that sermon, his remarks about Marah are so timely for us. He talks about the humanness of the Israelites and their struggle with the flesh, their failure to have faith in Him who had just delivered them from the power of the Red Sea.

Yet, Spurgeon also speaks of our deeper need for grace in trials. For the necessary of sweet in bitter. The voice of wisdom while waiting. The lifted hands of faith in a dry place. The source of hope that turns troubled waters into palatable drink.

We must have a flow of the living liquid of life. We must all spiritually survive. But when bitterness challenges us, when words of others pierce our hearts; when we have financial loss; when there's little money for the doctor and nothing in our bank account for medicine; when we see the tread showing on our tires and our children need new shoes; when God in silence dwells; when drained from ministry; when a sudden shock wave collapses the world around us; it is at these points of testing we most need the cross of Jesus. We must cry to God to show us sweet wood.

As I read the thoughts of Spurgeon about Marah, I found his words so compelling. "As soon as we have a prayer God has a remedy. The remedy is near at hand; but we do not perceive it till it is shown us. 'The Lord showed [Moses] a tree.' The tree had been growing for years on purpose to be used. God has a remedy for all our troubles before they happen to us."

Praise God! Rejoice in those words! They are not just for his 1871 listeners, but they are for you today! God has grown wood for you, dear friend. Its sweetness is there, and your faith, your precious voice lifted to Him in prayer will reveal its place and purpose.

That God would so plan our steps amazes me! We have a heavenly Father who allows our trials and in His omniscience sees our future desert places. In seeing, God plans. Makes our ways of escape. Personally, in forethought, God plans our paths of deliverance. He plants the seeds for our pieces of wood. God, dear ones, crafts our destiny.

It is all set in order. And when our Marah moments come, our desperate disposition leads us to choice. Die from despair, drink the bitter before us, or cry to God with every ounce of energy and faith we have and wait for his tree.

Be encouraged today, dear friends. If a vast, dry desert has led you to Marah, do not give up. Do not despair. Do not give in. God has a tree. He grew it for you. For this time. For His purpose. For your good. Accept it. Place it in your bitter water. Then drink its life. It will heal your soul. Dry your tears. Soothe your weary voice. And make alive your desert place, so your way is perfect.

Quote from C.H. Spurgeon from biblebb.com
Scripture reference in Exodus 15 is from NLT.


25 comments:

  1. Dear Andrea,

    What wonderful words of encouragement...I thank you for sharing them!
    Our family is struggling with our business that has slowed down to a trickle, but through this difficult time I have been drawn closer to God and our family has drawn closer together.
    I praise God for all His blessings, both big and small!

    Blessings!
    ~Nadine

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  2. What dear words of encouragement, dearest Andrea!!! :) Bless you dear sister!!

    Love~ Miss Jen

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  3. Andrea,
    I immediately prayed for your son. Healing, strength and maybe some peaceful TIME to recover from an emotional and physical journey.
    Thank you for your depth, your concern and your sweet pink heart - so receptive to the Spirit. I'm so thankful for our connection. (BIG HUG!)

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  4. I needed these words of encouragement this morning. I pray you are doing well. Allergies abound here. I am trying to breath and be productive. I have missed you, lately.

    Blessings, andrea

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  5. Andrea, this was such a comforting post and so timely. Thank you for the reminder too, that when we pray God has a remedy! How precious.
    God bless you today and this weekend!
    In Christ

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  6. This is a beautiful post and what you've said is so true..I too have experienced the bitter waters of Marah, but as well have tasted the sweet, received the grace God proffers and waited and trusted and viewed him working out all things according to his purposes which are for good, mine and others as well.

    As I read in My Utmost for His Highest, it is only when we come to the end of our self-sufficiency that God can begin to work. Often we think we are at the end, when we haven't even begun to 'let go' and 'let God'.

    Thankfully God is always working behind the scenes even when it is not apparent to us. That work he does there can only be seen with the eyes of faith and endured via hope in our hearts until such time the evidence is visibly tangible.

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  7. I am in the Marah place and believe that God has a special wood just for me and my family. We are going through the hardest warfare ever and you encouraged me greatly.

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  8. I too am in a Marah place. Kathleen of Sassy Granny recommended I come and visit you. I'm so glad I did. :) I needed to read this post. Life has been very difficult lately and it's good to know that God is working in the midst and has answers even though I don't always see. Thanks for sharing this.

    Blessings,
    Debbie

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  9. Beautiful, Andrea...especially this phrase...

    " God has a remedy for all our troubles before they happen to us." Amen!

    Your blog has always been beautiful, but I love your new look...I have been missing you, also....

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  10. I've had a large Marah moment in the past week; I kept telling God I didn't want to fail the faith test this time. He took me through my paces, but in the end, I found the tree that he planted long ago that would serve as great sweetness during a time when bitter waters could have been my portion (and in fact a bit warranted). Thank God for his "looking out" for us, long before we come to our Marah's.

    What's up with the new look and name? Love it all, as well as your posts!

    peace~elaine

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  11. I identify. I need this reminder. I have not always handled the bitter waters well....But I want to learn my lessons well and go forward.

    Thanks for your assurance of prayers for us in our current time of need. Underneath ARE the everlasting arms! God IS still on the throne.

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  12. What a treat to 'meet'! I found your link at Rebecca's. It's a lovely blog you have.

    I always thought it would be a wonderful thing to gather writings that have endured over the centuries, and put them where our generation can find them easily..... so they too may be inspired.

    You've done it! Splendid! Now I'm setting you in my sidebar so I can pop over often and see what eternal nuggets you've gathered for us this time.

    Blessings..................

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  13. Dear Andrea,

    I want to just cry after reading this post. You have no idea how much I needed this today. You have touched my heart. Bless you!

    Jill

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  14. Such powerful words! It is so easy in our everyday lives and struggles to get upset and blame God. As much as it pains me to say I probably would have grumbled in the desert too. Recently at work there has been conflict. Having studied Proverbs for several months now I called on God's Word to help me keep my mouth quiet and my eyes ever fixed on Him. I have not always been perfect but I have seen His Hand deliver me from the conflicts that are brewing because of His Love and faithfulness. I know all who read this post will be blessed:).

    BTW, I love the new look of your blog-it's beautiful!

    Blessings,

    Kim

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  15. Andrea,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and also for leaving that kind comment. :) I love your writing and find your page immensely inspiring. I look forward to continue reading through your blog. :)
    In His grace,
    Erika

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  16. Dear Andrea,
    Autumn Blessings to you!

    You write so beautifully and it is a sweet pleasure to read your written words.

    Though I don't always understand why somethings go the way they do, I am persuaded that Almighty God knows all and desires a personal relationship with us where we visit with Him often and it's alright to not understand it all. Oh the joy that He knows all and knows best.

    May the Holy Ghost refresh you and comfort.

    Andrea, your new header is so pretty and the blog lovely!

    Sending my love,
    d

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  17. Andrea,

    This post was for me.

    He used you to assure me that He has every.

    Single. Problem. Under His control.

    Thank you precious sister in Christ.

    Sweet dreams.

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  18. Dear Andrea,
    I wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment. I'm going to spend some time reading your blog now!

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  19. Hi
    after visiting your blog..i cant help saying that its really arranged and eye catching,,,,,the colors and an the way u presented ur stuff really impressed me....
    to read all throughly ..i need to visit it
    again and agian,,
    :-)

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  20. What a beautiful blog! Your writing is so peaceful, and the music is very calming. Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my "groovy" blog. It has allowed me to find yours, which I look forward to coming back and reading more of your writings. And, it doesn't hurt that you are a fellow Alabamian!

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  21. Andrea...

    Will you pray for me today? I need it.

    Love, Rebecca

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  22. Everyone I talk to is going through great difficulty and stress. Everyone.

    Thank you for this post...it is a wonderful reminder that God has not forgotten us.

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  23. Thank you for your sweet comment! I have to be honest I don't have time to read your posts at the moment (im a college student... enough said lol) but I am looking forward to when I can. I browsed and saw the names Spurgeon and Wesley so I'm sure I will be visiting again soon!

    Grace and Peace,

    Kiki

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  24. will you help? only 43 more needed!!

    http://ordinaryinspirations.blogspot.com/2009/10/coincidence-i-dont-thing-so.html

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  25. Andrea, I thank God you came and visited my blog. Thank you for coming and leaving a comment. It is good to meet a woman who understands what it means to be a Christian. Your blog is lovely and indeed a feast of light for the soul. Spurgeon is one of my favorite preachers; he understood by God's grace His wonderful words of life. I will be back, Lord willing, to visit.

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Thank you for visiting. I cherish your thoughts. You are special to me, but most of all, you are special to God, who loves you with everlasting love. May your life be swept into His joy and peace.

In the Wonderful Love of Christ our Savior,

Andrea