Monday, August 26, 2013

" Struck Down, but Not Destroyed"

Some of us Mennonite Girls Can Cook, with our husbands,  enjoyed a very lovely dinner party last evening at Anneliese's lakeside cabin.
In the yard was a fruit tree that had been blown over by the forces of nature.  There were signs of healthier former days -- wood slats nailed to the truck to allow climbing the tree's heights , worn remnants of a rope tied to sturdy branches from which children once swung.
The tree no longer stood tall and proud.
Although the first thing noticed about the tree was that it was lying on its side , a closer look revealed that it was still bearing fruit !  Apples hung in abundance from its branches.
It was a tree that invited the photographer's eye  - it made for lovely staging  for a photo shoot.  The healthy, upright tree standing not far from it was hardly noticed.

The tree was a life picture.
Perhaps we once stood strong and tall, enjoying a wonderful life when  forces beyond our control blew us over!   It may have been the onset of an incurable disease, a handicap,  a permanent disability, crippling circumstances we cannot change.   Life never to be the same again .
Yet we have a choice, an opportunity.   We can still bear fruit !
We think of people like Nick Vujicic born without arms or legs who has been such a life changing inspiration to those who meet him. Or Joni Earekson Tada  who was 'blown down by a dive into a pool that crushed her body, paralysing it.  Though she is confined to a wheelchair, she is a household name , bearing much fruit as an author and in-demand speaker.  She bears much fruit.

We want to be with people like them, having our photos taken with them so we remember the way their story inspires us, the fruit of their lives becoming our comfort, our encouragement. We notice them, listening to their message in a way we never would if they were 'ordinary'. 

Have you ever noted  that when you read the stories of our bible heroes they bore 'fruit' through difficult life circumstances ?    

One of my favourite characters,  Joseph, suffered as a slave, was sold by his own brothers,  imprisoned and cruelly treated when he was falsely accused  -   yet thousands of years later we are enthralled by his story.  We love how he rose up BECAUSE of being 'blown down'  and became ruler of Egypt second only to Pharaoh himself. 
We could look at Hannah, or Ruth, or Moses, or King David - all of whom suffered circumstances of life that could have crushed them, but didn't !  Instead they became heroes of faith that drew others to stand in their shadow, learning from their example. 

It is easy to despair, to lose hope, to feel crushed, to focus on the fact that we have been 'blown over'  by life's circumstances we could not control.  But perhaps we can be like Anneliese's apple tree, like our favourites heroes of faith,  and let God  'use' our disability  to be what draws people near to hear the message we have to give. Our disabilities need not hinder our God-given purpose.
The choice is ours -  despair or carry on!   If we are rooted in Jesus, His  promise is that no matter what befalls us, our roots will hold.  He will make a way for us to "bear much fruit". (John 15:8) 

I love the passage in II Cor. 4:7-10 which says .....  
"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed, 
we are perplexed but not in despair, 
persecuted but not forsaken, 
struck down but not destroyed
always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus 
that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body !! "


Vicki said...

Great post! I saw the photo on Anneliese's blog, but didn't realize the tree had been blown over. Thanks for sharing the back story and tying it to a spiritual truth.

Vicki said...

Oops, I mean I saw the photo on Judy's blog :}

Bev K said...

Thanks for finding the lesson in the blown over tree, Julie. It's a picture that vividly illustrates those words, "struck down, but not destroyed." And it's a reminder that we can continue to bear fruit despite tragedy or calamity.

ellen b. said...

We all knew you'd come up with some great life lessons from that fallen tree, Julie. It was wonderful to spend a couple hours with you yesterday!

Sandy said...

Love how you always put together a real life picture with a Biblical message...Thank you so much.
I am like that blown over tree with much stress all around...But God, is still holding on to me and it will be alright, even when family is not there when you need them.
Love from NC

Anneliese said...

Julie, I just knew there'd be a lesson in your heart coming from this tree. I love the verse you put with it ... struck down but not destroyed. Thank you for this natural lesson I will think of whenever I see this tree blossom and bear fruit.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

It is all about the roots isn't it? Being deeply rooted make life continue even after the storms of life have done their worst. Glad you were inspired by the fallen tree!

Judy said...

We read the devotional in 'Our Daily Bread' this morning...about withstanding the forces that attempt to bend and break us. I love the life lesson you found in the broken apple tree!

Kathy said...

A great lesson from the fallen tree. God is faithful in the storm.

Betty said...

You find the best lessons in the things around you..I love that. And thank you for sharing your insights.