Will you do something a little out of the ordinary with me? Will you step out of your comfort zone and step into the creative place where your imagination is? I know it may feel a bit uncomfortable, but who constructed our mind’s ability to dream up, to envision, and to imagine?
God did. The same God who used His creativity and imagination to form man from dust, separate sky from sea and sprinkle it with constellations and galaxies, and speak a zillion species of plants and animals into existence. It’s also the same God who spoke through a burning bush, gave dreams and visions to many of His children, and plans the moments of our lives.
Because we are made in His image, that same creative, imaginative spark is in us! Today, we’re using that to help us see an illustration that God formed in my mind recently about the kind of relationship that He invites us into.
Will you imagine with me? You are on a beach. A storm is rolling in. The sky is dark and the clouds are looming. The white capped waves are breaking on the shore in a loud, steady rhythm. A cold, driving rain beats down. The wind is gale force. The sound is nearly deafening.
A lone palm tree stands at the edge of the sand. The storm has the deep green fronds snapping out horizontally, like a flag standing at attention. The strong, slender trunk bends against the wind.
Can you picture that in your mind? Now I want you to envision two scenarios. In both, you run to the tree in hopes that it can provide safety. However, in the first, you desperately grab onto the snapping palm fronds. You hold on for dear life but the wind and the storm sling you every which way. As each gust blows, you are pitched back and forth, tethered only by the jerking, slippery branches.
In the second scenario, you run to the tree for safety and fling yourself against its’ strong trunk, wrapping your arms around its’ sturdy base. The wind and rain still beat against you and the tree, but the palm fronds whipping above your head actually provide a bit of shelter and protection. Although the storm rages, you are anchored securely there, bear hugging the trunk of the tree.
Can you see the difference in those two illustrations? Could you feel the difference?
Now let me make an application and let’s see if it hits home at all.
Grabbing the palm fronds for safety is similar to piling up our list of religious activities, trying to be good enough, trying hard enough, being a part of the right circles, and checking all of the right boxes in an attempt to please God.
Holding onto the trunk is like being in an intimate and connected relationship with God, confessing our sin and accepting His forgiveness, spending time with Him in prayer, knowing and trusting who He is through His word, and really allowing His perfect love, mercy, and grace to penetrate every part of our life.
There is a difference between trying to please God and being in a relationship with God. That difference feels like the difference between flailing about, wind whipped and desperate in a storm gripping only a slippery branch or holding firmly to the strong and steady trunk of a tree while the storm rages around you.
We all want to experience the feeling of being anchored in a storm, but how do we move from the flailing leaves to the firmly rooted trunk?
We learn to abide. We spend time asking God to reveal Himself through His word. We meet Him there and get to know who He is. We trust who He is, what He says, and what He does. We talk to Him often. And we listen. We get alone with Him and take time to just be with Him. We quiet the world and press in to knowing Him. As we do, our faith grows and our relationship deepens.
Matthew 7:7-8 NIV says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Seek. Knock. Ask. He’s always ready to open the door. He invites us to know Him. He welcomes us into relationship with Him as His beloved daughters.