"For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground,
Yet at the scent of water it will bud And bring forth branches like a plant. Job 14: 7-9
I took this picture last year, around this same time, when I was staying with my mother. I was fascinated to see the pussy willow trees bearing glorious golden buds, right on cue for the spring season, though it was still cold. Yet these little friends did not live to see spring. As we prepared to get the house ready to sell, a month or two later the lovely weeping willow trees were cut down, much to my chagrin, in order to give a better view of the fields below and the rolling hills behind them.
I sometimes think about things that more logical minds might think are silly. Like those beautiful buds, even though they soon were cut down, were a wondrous creation by God that gave beauty and glorified Him. God knew the exact moment they would be cut down, and yet He let them bud. He wanted me to see them, and to praise Him for His glory displayed in His creation. It was almost as if I were a little child, beholding them for the first time that day. I never saw up close how pretty the buds were until I was a 55 year old woman. How many more wonders will await us in the New Jerusalem?
Now Mom is in an assisted living facility, and despite our efforts to encourage her, she finds her life is short on joy and long on despair most days. My Dad has been gone about 1 1/2 years now, and she misses him so much. It is hard for her to find a reason to still be on this earth, even though we try to remind her that God's time for Him to take her home is perfect, and we just have to trust Him in spite of what we feel. I want her to believe that God has a use for her if only she will trust Him.
I 've been reading the book: Amma: The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth Skoglund. I wrote about Amy and her mission in Dohnavur, India in my own book, Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering. What a beautiful testimony of faith she bore.
Amy rescued hundreds of orphans from the temples in India, but in her old age, she had a severe back injury which left her an invalid for the last twenty years of her life. In much pain, Amy used this time to write many books and lovely poems. She did not give in to despair.
In this book I found a quote about old age and how we can still flourish in it. Most beautifully, Amy wrote:
Dear Companions in the Patience, do some of you find it hard to be contented to grow old?... Perhaps your thoughts have said, O to feel well for just five minutes! Listen, and perhaps you will hear something like this: My child, you will feel well for all Eternity. Your thoughts have said, Nothing else would matter if only I could be of use to someone. Listen and you may hear the gentle rebuke, My child, look out of the window. I find a use for the smallest leaf and bud on the tree, even the smallest drop of dew on the grass; can I not find a use for even you*?..."Amma: The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth R. Skoglund, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1994, page 46. Quoted from Carmichael's book, Though the Mountains Shake.
With the knowledge that every bud, every drop of rain is useful, so I want to make my life useful to Him. I fail constantly, but it is my prayer each day to present myself to Him a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2).
In this season of Easter, I think of how He was a dying sacrifice for the whole world. For any and all who will believe in Him He offers a purpose for each moment, even though at times it seems the sun hides its face and the gloom is palpable.
All the promises of His first advent came true, so we can trust that His promises to us about His return will prove true as well. One day soon, there will be the sound of a trumpet, and all those who have died in Christ will rise...
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"
I Corinthians 15: 51-57The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So hang on, dear friends. In the midst of the swirl of confusion, plant your hope in the One who cannot lie. Like the beautiful buds on the trees and flowers, we can have the wonderful privilege of revealing a tiny bit of His glory. One day soon, we will hear the trumpet sound.