While on errands today my husband noticed a stand of trees that still had their leaves. All the other trees were absolutely bare. "Those would be oaks," I replied. "They hang onto their leaves till the bitter end, until spring when the new life kicks them off!" In my mind I heard the Lord and LOL'd right then and there!
"And that is one of the reasons I called you "Oaks of Righteousness!" I can feel God grinning. Yup, they stand right there all winter long hanging on to dead stuff--things that have no value any more. How often we do the same thing! We hang onto things that served a purpose at one time, maybe a really good purpose; but that purpose has been served and it is time to move on. Instead of moving on, we hang on--to the known, to the comfortable, to "mine," to the established procedure...until new life comes! The old, dead structures cannot resist new life. One by one the old falls away and the new bursts out.
I shared the insight with my massage therapist who enjoyed it as well, but then she added this! Some plants hold onto the old as a way of protecting the new growth. If the old is taken away too soon the new growth will not come.
Hmmm, that makes it very important to not judge, in the sense of condemnation. And, it makes discernment, being able to distinguish between, also very important--indeed! What may look like a person is hanging on to something useless could be the Lord prompting that individual to not expose a growth point until it is ready to be exposed. Should the enemy see that tender place of growth he would try to kill it. The Lord may hide the new behind an empty useless structure until the new growth is ready to be exposed...until it can sustain life in the midst of the daily barrage.
Lord, help us identify the old dead leaves in our lives that serve no purpose, that would actually do more good in the compost pile! Help us to know when You would have us initiate pushing the old off and when we should wait for the new life to make that happen. At the same time help us understand Your ways and value how You protect our tender growth places so we do not condemn ourselves or others. Open our eyes to see your parables all around, every day. Help us to discern and not to judge.