Last Sunday I preached on the story of Nebuchadnezzar losing his mind and becoming like a beast of the field for seven years (Daniel 4). It all started when the king had a dream of a vast tree with branches stretching out in all directions and birds of every kind coming to nest in the branches. Suddenly the tree was cut down and the stump was bound with iron and bronze. The good part comes at the end when the king’s sanity is restored, his reign is increased, and he openly gives God glory for all that had happened. The whole story teaches us how God deals with his children. Sometimes he “shakes our tree” in order to get our attention and sometimes he cuts the tree down, but he never does it to hurt us but only to strip away our excessive self-confidence and bring us closer to him. That’s last Sunday’s sermon in a nutshell. On Monday I received the following e-mail:
“Hi Pastor Ray, Just wanted to write a quick note to thank you for your prayers and for the sermon. I found it most applicable! Now I have an image to work with-last year was definitely the tree shaking time and now I am little more than a stump-that’s exactly how I feel. But how encouraging to know that from here, through the awesomeness of God, He will raise me up to be a tree again. And I pray a wholly submissive one! The four points at the end were especially meaningful-how we are cut down because He loves us too much to let us go on, how He does not cut us down to destroy us but to make us better, how we will not stay in the valley one second longer nor get out one second earlier than necessary, and the other one (which I can’t remember right now-something about how it’s for our good :-). I found myself both humbled and encouraged. As for the year ahead, my sister said something cool that she kept reminding herself last year when going through a difficult time: It’s okay to be the queen that reigns in the Land of Uncertainty for a time, because you know that your Father is the King of the Land of All-Knowing. I don’t know where she came up with that, but it fits. Well, it will be an interesting year and probably a tough one, but with God in control, an awesome one.”
This may be the “Year of the Stump” for some of us, and the way may not be easy, but God will give us “iron shoes” for the road ahead. If your tree is shaking, or if you hear “Timber!” in the distance, don’t despair. God loves to turn stumps into beautiful trees once again.