I’m sitting outside on my back patio enjoying a gorgeous spring morning. The highs sit in the upper 70’s (SORRY REST OF THE COUNTRY!) and remind me why living in Arizona is worth any discomfort the summer may bring. The trees are green, a light breeze rustles the leaves, and a humming bird hovers near the bloom of my Aloe Vera plant. New life is all around me.
But out of the corner of my eye I can see which of these things is not quite like the other. My failed potting attempts sit together in the corner of the patio. You might never have guessed that these brightly colored pots once held oregano, rosemary, dill, and even tomatoes as recently as last spring. The soil is dried and cracked and browned sticks poke out from the surface.
Do you know what would happen if I began furiously watering and fertilizing these pots for the next month? Do you know what you would see in those pots?
The water might soak through the bottom, but you wouldn’t watch those dead sticks come to life. Even if I pruned the sticks, cutting them into a lovely shape there would still be no green, no life, and no growth.
There is no more life in these pots. I need to go to my local plant nursery and pick out some new herbs for the season. I will completely empty the pot and start over – new rich soil, nutrient rich fertilizer, and green, full-of-life, plants.
There’s a giant metaphor growing here. Did you catch it?
So often I work furiously to water what is dead in my own life, when God wants to start over completely! I worry how painful the emptying might be, but God knows a total transplant is the only solution.
I’m willing to admit I have a couple of sins and flaws that need God’s help, but at the end of the day I can pretty easily convince myself that I’m a good girl.
I point to my nice dead sticks and say, “Look God. It’s not so bad! I’m nice!”
But God’s desire, the purpose of the cross, is not to make us nice, but to make us new. God is all about total change. I must remind myself on an hourly basis how I have been forgiven of sin that separates me from God. I don’t need my sin pruned, I need it removed by a supernatural gardener.
“Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In face, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.’” – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
If you are like me, you find yourself thinking, “I’m good enough now, God! Thanks for all your hard work, now leave me alone!” But life in Christ is all about how HE wishes to shape and grow us. He is determined that we would be more than nice. His desire is holiness, that we might be made completely new in Him. We must lift our dead branches to the Son and say, “Have your way Lord!”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV