Monday, November 20, 2017

A Prayer to Grow Stronger, Part IV: Leaves

          While some conceive God’s favorite answer is no, I’ve discovered it’s a resounding yes! God not only says yes to our life, but desires us to have an abundant one. Some of the richest biblical images for God involve life and growth. Perhaps my favorite is when Jesus describes himself as the vine, and we are the branches; we simply cannot flourish apart from him (John 15:5). As I seek to grow at God’s direction, as I look to deepen connections to my Source, I offer you this prayer that revolves around the different parts of a tree. Relevant stories illustrate each part. My hope is that we will flourish in our life and service by praying it. This week is the final edition and ends in leaves, which are timely for the season. For last week's reflection on branches and the importance of taking risks, click here.

Lord, I want to live subject to your Spirit. May my obedience further your church as I connect with your people and reach out to the world. Thank you for being a God of jubilation — like a leaf, I want to dance!
            I’ve noticed when there’s a storm approaching, tiny leaves can actually make an awful lot of noise. I marvel at how thousands can move on their branches as the wind brushes past them. I’ve come to understand what the psalmist meant when he describes the trees as “clapping their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). It’s humbling to watch them move harmoniously to the rhythm of our Creator. But this scene holds more than a simple reflection of God’s majesty — it holds instruction too.
            There’s wisdom in imagining ourselves as one of those leaves. When I think about a leaf blowing in the wind, I remember the Bible describing the Holy Spirit as breath and wind, and I imagine living my life in accordance with the blowing direction of the Spirit. A leaf shakes at the smallest gust; I wonder how I can better obey the Spirit’s tiniest promptings. I’m also challenged to view my role as a single leaf in light of an entire tree. A tiny leaf can make a roar when it is connected to its source and joined with others in motion. The same can be said of us as we join with one another in Christ’s service.
            So often faith is a solitary enterprise today. From competing church commitments to a penchant for individual spirituality, the body of Christ is easily neglected. And while a single leaf on the ground can make a crunch, it misses the swaying, spectacular dance. Beautiful things can happen when a community comes together for change; the same can be true of the church. That's why I link arms with my local congregation. And as I desire to make a difference at the Spirit’s prompting, I remember of the humility and power of a leaf.

In the past four weeks, we have explored vital elements to Christian growth that are symbolized by a tree’s roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. As you think about your own life in the weeks to come, consider episodes when God has directed your growth respectively by giving you deeper roots, a patient heart, an exhilarated soul, or a jubilant obedience.

Closing Prayer
          Lord, grow me in each element above toward a unified vision of my life that’s flourishing. Help me to find true fulfillment in your service. Thank you in advance for your faithfulness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thank you for joining me in praying these past few weeks! If you've enjoyed this series, please bookmark this prayer to come back to and share it today with a friend!

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