CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN NETWORK
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WINDS OF ADVERSITY
by Ronald Gordon
In the spring of each year, I am in the woods for several weeks with a chain-saw, getting fire wood ahead for the coming winter. It's an annual ritual that also permits me to spend a lot of time in spiritual meditation. Here is where I preach future sermons to churches that have not yet called me for a summer booking. Here is where I discover spiritual correlations. Under sheltering branches I learn about a God who also shelters me from the harm of unpredictable circumstances. I love the majestic appearance of tall, stately trees with long sheltering branches. Their upward reaching crowns seemingly praise the Lord all day long. I imagine myself in a sylvan church among worshippers whose arms permanently reach skyward to God.
One day a heavy wind came through the forest and knocked down several trees. Most had shallow root systems, so it was easy to understand why they did not hold up against strong winds. Two of those fallen trees were wild cherry trees. The wind pulled their trunks right out of the ground, fully exposing flat bottoms with almost no roots. Each tree was not large enough to sell for lumber, so they would contribute to the warmth of my log cabin. As I cut off each butt log, the trunks fell back down upon a small depression in the earth with a jolting thump. Darkness was approaching as I cut them into about twenty inch sections and tried to carry as many as possible to the nearest path. After more than two weeks of completing other necessary jobs, I returned to those trees in order to finish carrying each section to the nearest path for a waiting garden tractor and trailer. To my complete amazement, several fully separated sections had small shoots already growing skyward --- with no roots. What desire. What tenacity! Knocked down by inescapable circumstances and cut into sections, these little shoots were resolved to recapture their former glory in spite of being severed from the trunk. What a testimony. What a spiritual correlation to how people would hopefully respond to tragedy.
This reminded me that many times in life people experience the hurt of troubling circumstances or bitterness that seems to cut them off right at the trunk. Overwhelmed by these situations, many accept their fate and almost lifelessly remain in their quiet world of hurt. Perhaps it is a failed love relationship or the death of an immediate family member. Adverse winds strike everyone from time to time. It's easy to stand tall when the bright sun of stability warmly shines. But when we are cut asunder by circumstances, our nourishment from Christ allows us to start growing again.
Like the cherry trees, we too fall under the pressing winds of adversity, feeling that our emotional stability is destroyed. We are forever changed, and restoration seems elusive if not impossible. But our God is never finished with us for deep within, His still small voice calls us to trust Him even when all hope seems gone. His spiritual nourishment is rich and our praise life begins to sprout, despite our emotionally severed condition. We begin to grow again with upward reaching arms. Our life song has returned. Spiritual courage returns to our veins. Our hope is refreshed. Thanks to God's eternal promises, we can once again sing and offer up heart-felt praise. We are growing again through Jesus Christ.
“But the ship was now in the midst of the sea,
tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.”