We’ve had a lot of wind here in Iowa lately. I mean nonstop winds, with gusts over 50 miles an hour.
Sunday morning as I looked out our bathroom window, I noticed the high winds had taken down one of our pine trees. The upper two-thirds had been ripped off and was laying there on the ground. It was a tree we had planted when we built our home 14 years ago, and it appeared as if it was strong and healthy, but there it lay, broken in two.
John and I were so sad because this tree had grown to be about 30 feet tall and was absolutely beautiful.
Upon further investigation, John discovered that the tree wasn’t as healthy as we thought it was. Evidently the trunk had somehow gotten damaged when it was planted or somewhere in its life because about three feet up from the ground, the trunk had been rotting away. Where it had broken off, there was a thick ring of black bark.
The high winds revealed a problem that we couldn’t see, something that we didn’t know was even there. The branches had covered the scar, and everything we could see on the outside seemed fine.
Until it wasn’t.
Isn’t that the way our lives are sometimes. We think we are doing okay, we think our scars are healed, and then when the high winds come up, we find ourselves broken, torn in two.
It’s then that we are forced to deal with our issues once and for all. Just like we had to get our tractor out and move that toppled tree because we couldn’t let it simply rot where it had fallen, we have to deal with our stuff when it comes to light as well.
And even though it’s hard and we don’t want to experience those hard winds and go through those seasons of struggle, the result is ultimately for our good…healing. Once exposed, God’s gentle touch will heal those tender areas of deep hurt, those painful parts of our past we tell ourselves we’ve forgotten but are still lingering in our memories, if we go to Him. His Word promises:
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
I don't know about you, but I definitely want to be strong, firm and steadfast. Sign me up!
But reality is, sometimes these scars show up out of nowhere, like our precious tree. They reveal themselves in those moments when we find ourselves overreacting to a situation or feeling offense at the slightest provocation.
They come to light in those times when we don’t understand the anger or hurt that’s welling up inside us and it feels like someone else is controlling our minds and our emotions. We know that the level of our response doesn’t match what’s happening, but we're not sure why.
One especially hurtful scar that can completely tear us apart when the high winds come up is bitterness. When we’ve been hurt by someone and we let the seed of bitterness start rotting in our souls, beware!
I speak from experience.
I’ve felt the decaying effects of unforgiveness. It’s not pretty. And when life has gotten hard, that’s when the effects of that contamination have shown up in my behavior when I lash out at people I love because of a hurt that has absolutely nothing to do with them.
And sometimes it does feel like it comes out of absolutely nowhere. I don’t understand it myself. Everything seemed okay from the outside, and I’d been skipping through life with relative ease. Life was good.
Until it wasn’t.
And once that scar is revealed, I have a choice to make. Am I going to cover it up and push it down again, avoid it at all costs, or am I going to allow God to do His healing work inside my soul, the work He promises to do in our verse above? Am I going to trust the God of grace and do the work it takes to forgive, truly forgive, as I have been truly and completely forgiven?
Take it from me, God does do the healing when we go to Him. We have to do our part and be willing to forgive, but He does the work inside us that we can't do ourselves. He gently leads us down the path of grace to a beautiful place of forgiveness and true freedom.
I encourage you, my friend, don’t wait until the high winds come up to deal with your scars. Let God walk you through the healing process so when the storms come, you can stand tall!
Hugs and love,