Monday, October 29, 2012

Tree of Grace

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 
Monday, October 29th the day the hurricane blew by. It was windy; we could hear it inside the house. The usual noises of a weekend at home could be heard. TV in the background, video games sounds coming from my son’s room and music from the other end of the house. But this was not a weekend, it was Monday afternoon. School classes were cancelled and offices were closed; everyone waiting for the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

The winds are getting stronger and the newscast is urging everyone to stay inside. 5PM…electricity cut off. Something outside fell, a possible tree and disruption to the power has occurred. We’ve been through this before; we’ll ride out the storm and in a couple of hours lights will come back on right? 12 Midnight….lights still out. Candles are lit and flashlights are ready. Just a few hours earlier, I had taken a peek out the window and saw that our 50 ft. plus high pine tree seemed to be moving. I mentioned it to my husband and then the “treewatch” gazing began.

Well it’s getting pretty scary now. My husband said “get ready to leave the house, this tree is going to fall”. I remembered that the Lord had impressed on me to “pack a bag”, but where are we going to go? Will we risk more danger and challenge “Sandy the Hurricane”? Well, I got dressed but I mentioned to my husband “we can’t leave the house; this is the safest place right now”. We continued to pray; for me the prayer is intensifying. I’m pacing and praying; back and forth throughout the candle lit house. Even my kitty cats, Mercy & Grace can tell this is not your normal, everyday event.

1AM….the tree is leaning…45 degree angle…then its 60 degrees....I’m calling out to the Lord….”Lord don’t let the tree hit our home…don’t let the tree hit our cars….don’t let the tree hit the power lines…don’t let the tree hit the neighbors home….don’t…don’t…don’t…..Lord lay the tree down…command it to lay down….Lord….Lord….Lord…..75 degrees...its leaning….its falling…the wind is howling…the wind is blowing……then like a “h u s h”…..almost as if the tree was commanded to lay down in between two other trees, commanded not to touch our fence, never even dared to fall in the direction of our home……cars seemed miles away and this tree quietly…did not even make a sound worthy of its weight….the tree laid down and died. I’ve shared this moment by moment story to testify of God’s grace; his favor toward us, his love for me. He is always worthy of my praise!
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
I did not know that death could leave a good fragrance…..
Tuesday morning and the dead pine tree is laying outside on my front door. How could something so dead release such a good fragrance? Life’s events always cause me to think of the Word of God. The Bible says that we are a fragrance of life to those that are being saved (2 Corinthians 2:15). But before the fragrance, was there a stench; an odor of “death” that I was enveloped in? When I thought I was alive, you know, living my own life apart from God, I smelled…but I did not know it. It was a repulsive odor. I could not even stand before God….I was dead!
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness  to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Ephesians 2:1-8

Dead in my sins and I did not even know it. But then Christ arrived; it’s not as if I was totally oblivious to the “wind of the Spirit”. For a while, I could hear his gentle whispers (even if I did not totally understand it). He was ordering my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I visited a church in my neighborhood; no great connection…nice church…45 degree tilt. I traveled to Florida on vacation and contacted my cousins whom I had not seen in years….60 degrees and falling. I was invited to dinner and the subject of church arose (my cousins were believers--I was not) 70 degree angle and I’m feeling a tilt but I figured, “ I can handle this”. Walked through the doors of the church….small quaint little congregation…..remember I am on vacation….it’s all good! Then the Pastor calls my husband and I to the front along with my 5 year old son……and then….. a ”H U S H”. Angels waiting for a transformation to occur….will they take the invite…will they lay their lives down…will they remain on the fence (as if that’s even a real option)….will they “die” to self..…will they……will they……..will they. And then….. Drop ….it’s over….death swallowed up….….the stench gone….it’s the sound of victory in heaven, angels rejoicing over one sheep found, over one sinner saved (Luke 15:7). The one who thought was alive (me) was really dead….and now she is about to really live…it’s like a re-birth…born again if you will!

Then I smelled it….it’s a fragrance that I had never smelled before, an aroma and it’s coming from me….from you…from those whose lives are transformed. How did it get there? Someone poured it over me even as his own blood poured out from him.
The pine tree currently sits in my front yard all cut up into pieces. It’s dead, yet a beautiful perfume emits from every piece laying on the grass. I don’t believe in all the years I have lived in my home, that I ever really noticed the sweet aroma, it never really had invaded my sense of smell.
Our lives, they too emit a sweet perfume now. What I find incredible it that every time another “piece of me” dies…the fragrance intensifies! Glory to God! I died and continue to die daily...…yet I Iive!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8)
I’ve traded the stench for a sweet perfume. I smell pine….I smell victory!
God bless you!~Liz


 Acts 9:32-34 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas,...