Summary: The strength of God’s grace can heal inner weaknesses that would otherwise cause you to crumble.
It was at 5:30 a.m. on March 13, 1933 that a giant, vigorous redwood tree crashed to the floor of a california forest. Its fall ended a life of more than 1200 years. A section of the stump was removed and studied through the science of tree ring chronology and the life of the tree was reconstructed.
It sprouted as a seedling that fell to the ground near 700 a.d. In 1147, evidenced by a ring shake in the trunk of the tree, there was an earthquake that separated bark from the rest of the trunk. Stringy white rot set in. But the tree was strong and it isolated this rot and snuffed it out. The tree grew, rather than weaker, stronger from this shaking.
Years marched past. Some good years of rapid growth and other years of near stagnation. At one point, 112 years added only 8 inches. At another point, 100 years added 36 inches to the tree. In 1595, when Shakespeare was a young traveling actor, a forest fire raged through the forest. The burn that attacked this tree left behind a fungus that grew beneath the bark. But because of its roots that descended to the depths of the soil, and its branches climbing over 300 feet to the sunlight, the tree grew new bark and killed the fungus. For over 200 more years, the tree grew stronger in the forest.
Whether it was accident, lightning, or careless campfire, in 1789 there was another forest fire; and then another in 1806 and again the most serious of all in 1820. This last fire left a 13 foot scar that marred forever the beauty of the tree; but far worse than the scar, it burned completely away the root system on the north side of the tree. But slowly, at first imperceptibly, but inevitably, the tree began to lean toward the side of those missing roots.
It was just now in its prime of life. 320 feet tall weighing more than 500 tons crippled by fire it struggled against this wound that would not heal for more than a century. So it was on that quiet spring morning almost 70 years ago, a point of critical mass was reached. It may have been a tiny bird landing on a northern branch, or a light southern breeze, warm, hardly felt. And the tree came crashing down.
When Paul said, I bear in my body the marks of our Lord Jesus Christ, he was not referring to about a mystical stigmata of nail prints. But he was talking about the wounds and scars that come to every child of God. Our passage of days are marked by wounds and scars recorded on the open book of our life. Those times, dark and dreary valleys, bright and glorious mountains.
For every child of God, there are fat years, lean years, droughts, fire, thirst -- but it is how we handle to wounds of life that determine if we stand or fall. We have seen great people who seem to suddenly fall into temptation. Falling is never as sudden as it seems. It was just a light breeze, a tiny bird; how could they make it through all they did and fall to such a light turbulence?
Will you let it heal or will you nurse your wounds and destroy yourself? It is not what happens to me, but how I react to what happens to me that determines whether I stand or fall.
I. FIX THE LEANING
II. HEAL THE BACKSLIDING
A. IF YOU PICK IT, IT WILL NEVER HEAL
B. LET ME TAKE THE KNIFE OUT OF YOUR BACK
C. PROV 18:14
D. Spirit can keep you going and cause you to rise above the ashes of physical infirmities, handicaps & diseases, abuse -- A SPIRIT THAT WOULD NOT QUIT, REFUSES TO FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF
E. Heal the roots of bittnerness
G. Disinfected wound with forgiveness, covered it with kindness, anesthesiaized it worship and eventually it healed
H. Phil 3:13-14
I. Some say, Paul said one thing and then gave two. He did not, it is one action. Put it behind by moving on to something else.
J. Paul said “no man stood with me, but I pray God lay it not at their charge. . . notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.”
A. Peter gives a final exhortation to the believers -- grow deeper in grace, greater in fruit, stronger in faith
B. 2 Peter 3:18
C. Put so many rings around your spirit that it is insulated from wounds
V. SOVEREIGN GRACE
A. Jude 24-25