It was about an hour before a friend of mine from church was coming over to the house for help in getting his head screwed back on straight. He was going through a contentious divorce and it was tearing him apart both mentally and physically. My job was to try to help him get his Spiritual life back on track, an impossible task in his mind. I was walking around in the back yard debating with myself what I might say to help him and although I’d spent hundreds of hours studying God’s Word both on my own and in seminary I felt totally inadequate, almost ashamed of myself for it. I desperately wanted to help him and he desperately needed help and in less than an hour both of us would be sitting in my living room. Of course we would pray, read a few passages of Scripture I had chosen earlier, but then what?
As I walked toward the back of my yard, next to a pile of firewood that someone had given me for free the year before, I looked down at a single log lying in the long grass. The wood had turned out to be almost worthless as firewood since it was from a willow tree, but I hadn’t yet figured out what to do with it all. I picked up the log and after a brief inspection saw that it was sprouting at least a half-dozen leaves right out of its bark and even appeared to be on its way to putting down roots. Anyone who knows anything about a willow tree knows that you can cut it down but you can’t kill it. Why, you can barely burn it! Then it occurred to me what I would talk to my friend about, so I tucked the leafy log under my arm, walked into the house and placed it on the coffee table where we were about to meet.
Not surprisingly, the first thing out my friend’s mouth as we sat down together was, “What’s with the leafy log on the coffee table?” I jokingly responded, “I was hoping you would notice it, and by the time we are done here tonight you may want to take it with you!”
We talked about that old log for a minute, looking at it with a sort of curiosity and wonder as to what made it different from any other log, why it just refused to give up and die. I then asked, “Have you ever heard of the stump of Jesse?” “The stump of who?” he replied. We turned to Isaiah 11:1 and read, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” I explained that the stump was Jesse, the father of David and the point of the passage was two-fold. First, that God had promised that He would never abandon His people, Israel and no matter how difficult things got for them he would never let them be completely destroyed.
Granted, the Jews had brought it upon themselves by their unfaithfulness, but God would always keep his promise to them. He would never let them be completely destroyed always preserving a “remnant” from whom a precious new shoot would sprout and grow. That new shoot from the family of Jesse and David and of Almighty God Himself, was born Jesus of Nazareth and would grow to become Jesus the Christ. That new “Branch” would become the new people of God, His Church, united with Christ and inseparable. I reminded my friend of the rhetorical question Paul asked in Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors.”
I suggested that he was just like that old log on the coffee table, cut down, abandoned, but never to be completely consumed by fire. That soon he would sprout new shoots, grow leaves and new roots and there would be new growth in every area of his life; that all he needed was to refresh himself in the “living water” of our Lord to help him grow once again. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate (you) from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (vs.36-39).”
A couple years later my friend had recovered but was still trying to reconcile the broken relationship with his former wife. He knew that although the marriage was over, that being reconciled was an imperative and it was still heavy on his mind and heart. Then he said with a smile, “You know, I can’t remember a thing you said in those hours we spent together praying and reading the bible, but there’s hardly a day that passes I don’t think of that log sitting on your coffee table and what it meant to me then and now; and how you insisted that I take it home with me!”
If you are going through trials in your life, with your spouse, your children, an addiction, unemployment or illness, always remember that nothing can separate you from the love of God. You may, either intentionally or unintentionally, be separating or isolating yourself from God’s love by allowing your circumstances to overwhelm and occupy your every thought, but He’s still there, alive and living within you. The life that God has placed in you, the Holy Spirit, is there waiting to provide the counsel and help you need to begin to grow again. You may be asking, “But how can I clear my mind and begin to put down new roots and grow?”
We’ll explore some practical and effective ways to begin the process by looking further into Isaiah, chapter eleven in the days ahead.
Tool #355 No matter how long you have been laying in the long grass, isolated and alone, there is life within you, just waiting to be released and nurtured by the Spirit of God.