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Topic: Trees (12/05/05)
By Cheryl Harrison
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Kneeling at what would soon be our new church altar, I waited for a sign that my prayer had been heard. I knew my petition couldn’t bounce off the ceiling, because there was no ceiling. Surrounded by new construction, the concrete foundation and unfinished framework offered little protection from the cold wind. The velvety night sky, blanketed by countless stars seemed strangely silent, a silence broken only by the rhythm of my heartbeat. I exhaled deeply and watched a smoky wisp of breath briefly linger in the air. Light from a passing car danced across the framework and formed a cross-shaped shadow, which returned my focus to prayer. I quietly waited to hear from God.
“Have you counted the cost?”
“Are you willing to surrender?”
These two questions scurried through my mind like mice looking for a hiding place. I captured them and considered their source and meaning.
Speaking out loud, my voice echoed into the night, “Lord, is that you?”
“Are these your questions or are they mine?”
Minutes passed as I continued to wait before the Lord.
“To have strong faith you must be willing to surrender everything to me. Are you willing?”
Suddenly, a gust of cold wind swept through the structure, sending dry leaves skittering across the concrete. A few of the leaves came to rest near me. I shifted my position from kneeling to sitting. Picking up a leaf for further examination, I sensed the Lord beginning to teach me.
Less than thirty days ago the trees surrounding me were adorned with healthy green leaves. The onset of autumn changed their color from green to a reddish-orange. Soon afterward the trees surrendered their leaves and stood before the Lord with bare branches. Stripped clean, they now await a new season and the budding of new life. They don’t question their nakedness, nor do they attempt to clothe themselves. They simply wait, fully surrendered, before the Lord.
I crumbled the dry leaf in my hand and watched as the wind carried it away. Then I took a baby step toward strong faith by praying a simple prayer:
“Lord, you know my heart. You know everything about me and amazingly you still love me. If strong faith requires complete surrender, then I surrender. Strip me clean. I surrender my strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures to you. My past, present and future belong to you. O Lord, please give me strong faith.”
Complete peace washed over me as I stood and walked away. The sound of dry leaves crunching under my feet brought joy to my heart. I knew my prayer had been heard. Now, fully surrendered, I would wait before the Lord. I would await a new season and the budding of new life.
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