Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Direction Change" by Garris Elkins

On a recent trail hike I noticed a madrone tree branch above my head. I was so impressed by what I saw that I snapped a picture. The image of the twisted branch caught my attention because it had so obviously made a u-turn in its growth pattern. Like other tree branches, it started out growing up and outward as normal branches do in their life cycle, but at some point this branch was injured and began to grow in the opposite direction. As the branch healed, and eventually recovered from its wound, it resumed a normal growth pattern.

Like this madrone tree, we were originally created by God to grow up and outward - towards Him and His destiny for our lives. The sin and brokenness we encounter, by living in this world, can mess up a wonderful life-plan and cause the patterns of our lives to resemble something other than God's original intent. Wounds in life are only fatal if neglected.

I asked myself today, "Is there any place in my life that I am carrying an unresolved wound?" If so, I am not growing up and outward - that part of my life is actually dying and mutating downward into someone God never intended me to become. All wounds must be given to the Wound-Healer Himself through confession, repentance and trust. When we give these things to God we immediately change the direction of our lives and return to the healthy growth patterns God had in mind when he brought us into this world.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Rest in the Reflection" by Garris Elkins

"For all who have entered into God's rest, have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest." Hebrews 4: 10-11

When the word "rest" is used in most Christian teaching we are told that we all need a day off or a new schedule to allow more down time. This is great for many reasons, but it is not what is being taught in Hebrews 4. This kind of rest is only found when we cease, in our own efforts, to do what only God can do.

If we could go into the interior of China today we would meet fellow believers who have no days off - they work seven days a week, they have no vacations and no savings account to pad a future hope of retirement. These same believers are living in the "rest" of God because their rest is in the Person of Jesus and His completed work, not a well-defined lifestyle with days off, vacations and retirement plans. Jesus is their Sabbath.

When God finished creating the world He did not rest on the 7th day because He was tired. He rested to reflect on the goodness of what He had just created.

At the end of God’s creative activity the Word tell us,

“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that is was very good.” Genesis 1:31

God doesn't get tired. On the 7th day He wasn’t modeling life plans or helpful Day-Timer scheduling techniques to prevent fatigue. He was saying that rest only comes by reflecting on the goodness of what God has done. The same is true for us. That elusive rest that many are searching for does not come by adopting a new schedule or lifestyle – it comes from reflecting on God’s goodness in all seasons of life.

This week don't worry so much about your schedule. Sure, make some changes where you can, but the real rest you are looking for comes when you stop throughout the day and reflect back on the goodness of God. When this kind of reflection becomes part of our lives we will begin to feel the peace and rest that comes when His goodness fills our thoughts.