The Scent of Water

dead tree with green shootThe trunk is split and gray, dry as sun-bleached bones. Leafless branches stick their skeletal fingers in the air, some broken and hanging like fractured digits. It is obvious there is no life in this old tree spindly on the edge of a cabbage field. Yet it stands steadfast through the seasons, drawing my eye whenever I pass.

I feel a slight sadness when I drive by it in spring. While it’s fellow trees are flaunting fresh, green leaves, the dead tree remains bare. Until one day I notice something different where a section of its trunk has broken away and fallen. Slowing down, I see green shoots sprouting out of what looks like dead wood. Tears prickle behind my eyes and my heart swells with something like hope.

I am reminded of what Job said. Heavy-hearted under the hand of God, occasionally Job speaks a glimmer of hope into his melancholy musings. In chapter 14 his thoughts are on the brevity of man’s troubled days, numbered by God and soon over. Then ….
“At least there is hope for a tree. If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9 NIV)

I see this as a picture of Job’s deeply buried hope. “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble,” (Job 14:1) he states gloomily. Then he uses the image of a dead tree putting forth green shoots at the scent of water. This is such a vivid picture of growth sprouting from decay, hope from hopelessness, new life from death. And what calls forth this green shoot? The scent of water.

Can a tree detect the scent of water? It seems impossible if it is dead, yet somewhere deep inside its mouldering wood a dormant cell senses life-giving moisture then begins to multiply. Can a soul dead in sin conceive of a life beyond this present world? God planted eternity in the heart of man, imbued it with an awareness of life beyond this conscious one now lived. At the scent of water our heart is called. Drawn by the scent of living water welling up to eternal life, water which symbolizes the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.” (John 4:14 The Voice)

What is the scent of living water? It is the fresh fragrance of forgiveness by God, who alone is able to pardon your sins. It is the perfume of perfection emanating from the Savior who calls you to be perfect, as He is perfect. It is the incense of sacrifice rising from His life laid down for you, no greater demonstration of divine love existing.

I was once like that bone-gray dead tree on the edge of a field. No green shoots, no new leaves; no life within my spirit. But then the scent of living water drifted across my heart, drawing me to the One who satisfies all my longings, filling me with His love. I bud with vibrant spiritual life, putting forth shoots new and green. The scent of water is now the River of Life flowing strong.

 

By His Wounds

Wounded Heart HD WallpaperIt is an old scar, healed over a decade ago, yet sometimes it pulls and aches and I am reminded of that journey to death’s door and back. Close to that scar beats a heart once wounded by sorrow so fierce I thought I would die with every beat. Give me the scars caused by a knife over those inflicted in the name of love. They may twinge but they do not leave the ghosts of grief hovering at the edges of my present happiness.

I think of it as my “Job Period”, when God withdrew His hand and I plunged headlong into a marriage betrayed, children floundering, cancer stalking my veins. Years of trouble at my doorstep every day and nights of despair-soaked pillows brought me to this,
“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10 NIV)

I could not turn my back on the very One I needed so desperately even though I often raged at Him. When everything I held on to in this world was whipped away, God flooded the echoing void with His loving presence. I did not need to know the reasons or the outcome for such suffering, only Him. Three years previous a hunger to know God more deeply sent me to feast on His Word, bask in His presence, be satisfied with His love. In this way He prepared me for the terrible wounding I had no idea was coming.

When the man I handed my heart to betrayed me repeatedly then left me destitute, the wounding felt mortal. “I heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,” God promised.(Ps. 147:3) Later He breathed life into my shattered heart through the clean, pure love of a man who belonged first to God and then to me.

As my son sank into a depression so deep he no longer wanted to live, I cried out to the One who knew what it was to face the death of a child. He heard my prayers to bring my son back from the brink. “But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” (Malachi 4:2) I now can see the shadow of God’s healing wings in the wise, peaceful eyes of my son.

For 12 years now I awake each morning surprised by life. Cancer has been held at bay, so every day is a gift I will never take for granted. “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) Locusts devour everything in their path, like cancer. I do not know why God chose me to be a restored survivor. I don’t need to know, just rest in the blessing.

It is a mystery why the blood shed from the wounds of Jesus should be the very means of my healing. “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) My eternal healing from sin and separation from God will be fully realized when I see Him face to face. I may recall the wounds I received in my earthly life, but they will no longer have power to cause me pain. No scars will be visible then, except those I see on the risen Christ, received for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound of His Roar

prairie thunderstorm

Light leaches from the sky, absorbed by dense, roiling clouds heavy with rain. The air holds its breath yet emits a sharp metallic scent, a forerunner of the storm to come. The long, flat horizon of the prairie is suddenly transformed into a vast stage on which sheets of lightning streak and flash. Frozen by brilliant light, trees, fences and farmhouses stand out in brilliant relief on the edge of the world. Then the curtain drops and miles away another silhouetted scene blazes forth.

I count after each lightning flash, waiting for the sound of thunder. At first it is a distant rumble, a growl far off. But as the storm draws closer, agitation in the clouds breaks out in fury close behind each burst of lightning. I feel the power of cosmic sound waves reverberating in my chest; I thrill at the forces unleashed in the heavens.

A scientific explanation of thunder does not capture it for me. “Thunder is caused by the rapid expansion of the air surrounding the path of a lightning bolt.” (Library of Congress) Not nearly dramatic enough to define this amazing phenomenon. I need to dip into my allegorical imagination and describe thunder as the voice of God in nature.

“Listen! Listen to the roar of His voice, to the rumbling that comes from His mouth. He unleashes His lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of His roar; He thunders with His majestic voice. When His voice resounds, He holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding.” – Job 37:2-5  NIV

A thunderstorm brings me up short out of my small, self-absorbed life. Each day I make decisions, perform duties, seek knowledge, seldom looking beyond the next item on the agenda. I live with an air of entitlement, a smug expectation that all will continue as it has been, not often remembering at whose hand the universe holds together. But when my ears ring with primal thunder, I snap to attention.

This is His voice; the voice of my God, the voice of my Creator! I need to be reminded in just such a dramatic way. I need to know in the depths of my soul the answer to all the questions the Lord asks Job in chapters 38 to 40.  “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm?”  And to the myriad of other rhetorical questions the Lord asks Job there is only one answer … El Shaddai, God Almighty.

The reality is, this God of thunder Who moves vast forces of nature at will is also the Lord Who is mighty to save, Who takes great delight in me, Who quiets me with His love, Who rejoices over me with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)

Come, thunder! Come, lightning! Proclaim the power of the Almighty before the whole earth and remind me Whose voice you speak with. I delight in the sound of it.