Anyone who has spent time living in the southern U.S. states comes to realize that storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are a natural and frequent part of life. We had such a storm last Friday night. There was heavy rain, great flashes of lightening, and ferocious winds. Conditions were right for a tornado; sure enough, one hit our house.
It could have been so much worse. As it happens, it broke two large, twenty foot limbs from one of our pecan trees, peeled back part of the tin roof over one end of the house, tore off a strip of vinyl siding from the back porch, and blew in the shed doors. All these things are repairable. Like I said, it could have been so much worse. We remain thankful.
What has interested me in the days following the storm are the limbs that were broken from the pecan tree. One limb was completely severed. It lays stretched across the ground below. Another limb is hanging straight down to the ground, but it’s hanging on by a sliver of bark. Now, here is the interesting thing: the limb completely severed is already dried out and the leaves have turned brown as if it were autumn. However, the limb still attached to the tree, although only by the smallest fragment of wood, is as leafy and beautiful as the rest of the tree. All the leaves are green; there is every evidence of life.
As I have observed these two limbs, it has occurred to me that the limbs are not unlike people in their relationship with Jesus. Those who don’t know Him are like the dried up limb on the ground. True and lasting life, full of the purest peace and joy in any storm, comes only through knowing Jesus Christ. There is no other way.
Then, there are those who indeed know Him, but perhaps they feel spiritually dry, not unlike the limb on the ground. Haven’t we all, at various times in our lives, felt empty? Has your heart ever cried out like the Psalmist in Psalm 10:1, “Why do You stand afar off, Oh Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” We know of a certainty, in our minds, that Jesus never forsakes us; but in times of trouble, we don’t always feel it. We love feelings. Who doesn’t smile at memories of the sweetness of God’s love wrapping around us? We feel we can almost tangibly grasp hold of Him, such is the loveliness of His presence. We want to feel those emotions all the time! Why can’t we?
Perhaps the answer is, as the song, Through It All, by Andrea Crouch, states: “If I never had a problem, I’d never know that God could solve them.” Like tornadoes swirling on the ground, wreaking havoc to everything in its path, we also get tossed about in the storms of life. We are battered and bruised, but never forget — we are attached to the Lord Jesus! We may feel we’re only hanging on by a sliver! Be gladdened! A sliver is enough! A sliver still brings comfort and peace to a troubled soul. What we feel is only a sliver, is the lifeblood of Jesus pouring into all our aching places.
Take heart, oh, slivered one, for you are not dying; you are hanging on to the One who will never let you go.