...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Growing Straight

Sometimes I imagine myself a gardener. I think I could really be one, if I had the time. I like gardening.

But that is the problem with time- it limits how many good things you can do. One of my "secret" bucket list items is to become a Master Gardener. (My "secret" list is items I think are highly unlikely to happen but still dream about anyway. Going to Antarctica is on there too. Also highly unlikely.)

One of the things I love about gardening is that it is chock full of spiritual analogies. Just ask Jesus- He used lots of gardening analogies- soils, harvests, fruit,....see?

Last week, on January 16th, in "Life is Messy", I wrote about 2 Corinthians 10:13:
2 Corinthians goes on to say in 10:13: But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned (assigned is another translation) to us as a measure to reach...

If the God of the Universe has assigned me a messy, non-containable, unorganizable, full to overflowing life, then I had better stay within the "measure of the sphere He apportioned" and quit looking at other spheres to determine how I am doing. And I had better stop looking at the sphere of the planet of "How Things Should Be."

After I wrote that I did a little more research into that verse and.....

do you ever look something up, maybe on a verse you have read lots of times, and just get your mind blown open, or maybe it is your heart, but you just see something new and bigger and, ...well...amazing?

Well, that is what happened to me.

First I looked up measure which is the Greek word metron meaning instrument for measuring, graduated staff. So it was something to measure with and this is where our word meter comes from. Nothing too shocking here. Sort of what I expected to find.

Next, I looked up apportioned, the Greek word merizo, which is divide, assign, distribute. Once again- nothing earth shattering.

But then....

I looked up sphere. This was the last place I expected a surprise. I figured it would mean...well...a sphere...or ball. But the Greek word is kanon and its first meaning is "straight piece of round wood to which anything is fastened to keep it straight. A measuring rod and by implication one's sphere of activity."

Maybe that doesn't blow your world, but for those of us with active imaginations- wowzers!

This is the perfect gardening picture.
I had always seen my "sphere" as the area God gave me in which to work. It is His assignment to me for my life. It could be my family, my church, my neighborhood, my ministry. This is the "where" of where He wanted me to reach.

And I am not saying that is not true. It is just not ALL that there is.

All this time, I was looking at what I was supposed to DO in these areas.

But I have failed to look at what these areas were supposed to be doing to me!

They are supposed to be straightening me!

I know God wants to transform me and conform me and purify me and make me more and more like His Son. But sometimes that process, in all its messiness (messy because of me and my resistance, not the Lord's work) is hard to understand.

I need a picture I can hang onto in the times of Holy Sandpaper doing its job in my life.

And now I have one.

God cares about my soil. (Mark 4:8)
God cares about my rain. (Psalm 107:35)
God cares about my fruit. (John 15:2)

And God cares that I grow straight.

He knows that left to my own I would grow crooked. I would wander off from the straight line up to His sunshine. But, thankfully, He doesn't leave me on my own.

He fastens me to kanons to keep me straight.

Kanons like my family, my church, my neighborhood, and my city. And kanons like my struggles, and my challenges, and my sorrows. And kanons like His Word, and His Spirit, and His sweet consolations.

So now I go back to 2 Cor. 10:13: But we will not boast beyond our measure (determined extent), but within the measure of the sphere(straightening rod) which God apportioned (assigned) to us as a measure to reach.

God loves me so much. So much more than I can ever understand. He loves me enough to fasten me on to straightening rods. He has assigned them into my life...the EXACT. ONES. I. NEED.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says- "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in to the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Praise God- I am being transformed from a scraggedly, crookedy, scrawny, unfruitful tree, into a testament of His power. But the more I fight against His straightening rods, the longer that straightening is going to take.

So Lord, thank you for it all. Thank you for all of Your holy fastenings!

What about you? What does He have you fastened to?

Have you thanked Him for them lately?

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