If there is anything that I have learned over the last few months, it is that there are times when God does something in our lives to prepare us in a unique way for something that he wants to do through us in the future.
There are times and seasons in God that are all purposeful. The past three months, I know that I have been in a unique season in God.
It started in early October when I was away for a few
days. The last morning, we were encouraged to go
into the garden and be with God. It was a wonderful
day, bright sunshine, warm and peaceful. I walked
around the garden, and was drawn to a tree with a
circle of leaves around it. The leaves had clearly
fallen from the tree, and left a perfect circle around
the tree. But it was the bark of the tree that caught
The bark was peeling off and also falling to the floor.
Now I’m not much of a tree person! I know some but
not many species, and I did not know this type of tree.
I continued to walk around the garden, and there
was another tree the same. There was more bark
peeling off this one, and I picked some off the ground
and smelled it. I don’t know why, maybe that’s a guy
thing to do, but I did it! It had a strong but sweet
fragrance to it.
Someone else came to talk to me, and we talked about the tree. After picking a couple of leaves and rubbing them in our hands, he told me it was a eucalyptus tree. The fragrance from the leaves was stronger, still sweet, but strong. But it was the bark that fascinated me, how it was stripped away to reveal a vulnerable trunk underneath, and I held the picture in my mind.
Over the following weeks, God began to speak
to me. Various things had happened over the
year, it was a harder year than I had expected
or hoped it to be. I had felt burdened where I
hadn’t expected to. But God spoke and said
this to me; “The eucalyptus tree represents
what I am doing in your life. You are entering a
season where I am stripping away everything
from you. This is not just bad, or worldy things,
but the good things too. Even the things that
smell like Jesus.”
I thought I had a handle on what this meant; I
thought I could do this. I knew that I would have to do a number of things. Trust him in a greater way. Throw myself onto him and surrender to what he was doing without fighting it. I did not fully grasp the full extent of what God was saying. Everything is everything.
But I couldn’t fully prepare myself for it at all! I could make the decision to yield to God, but that was it. I found over the three months that it was as if God was far away. In fact it was as if God had gone completely! I did not hear God with any clarity, in fact most of the time I had to trust that what I was saying and doing was God and not me. I did not know. I was open to God searching me, and I pleaded for God to do that throughout the time. I was drawn to Psalm 51, particularly the verse that says “restore to me the joy of your salvation.”
I cannot express in words how much not being aware of God pained me. When you have God, there is a peace and a fire. When it feels like you don’t, you either give up and slide away from him, or you yield to him and throw yourself onto him in what can only be described as desperation for his presence. I threw myself onto him and just allowed him to do what he wanted to. I prayed that he would “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.”
Last Tuesday, January 11th, was the first
morning I woke up and felt ‘normal’ for three
months. When I say normal, I mean I felt God,
I was full of God, and I felt the fire again. Since
then, the fire has burned, and my desire for
nothing other than his presence has intensified.
I would encourage anyone who is feeling alone,
distant, or out of touch with God to decide one
thing. Decide to yield to God, and allow him to
work. “It is God who works in you, both to will
and to work for his good pleasure” says
Philippians 2:13. You can do nothing. Everything is God, comes from God and returns to God to give him glory. Our very recognition of our weakness enables his strength to be perfected. Maybe God does not give us his strength, but just gets inside us and is strong inside us? But if we at all think we are strong then we will hinder whatever God wants to do in and through us.
A eucalyptus tree sheds its bark for further growth. It might be sweet smelling and fragrant, but it is shed. Sometimes, God removes everything, good and not so good, to show us our weakness without him. If we recognize it is God doing this, we can with a glad heart throw ourselves onto him and desire his presence.