What a privilege to welcome another friend, Tonya Ortkiese to “Deeper Still” this week. You will be inspired by her writing. Thank you Tonya for sharing your story. ~Martha Wilson
It began somewhere that first week of May when I made up my mind I was going to start a new habit...walking. It was as I was walking around my circular driveway that I noticed this tree in my pine island.
It has been there for many years, but today I realized it had become a beautiful, tall and flourishing tree, extending a welcome invitation to sit in its shade. I remembered the outdoor bench we had purchased last year, but had failed to set it in place. Within a couple hours of asking my husband Steve where it was, the bench appeared under the tree.
What an example of a love relationship, just like God wants us to have with Him.
He wants us to ask and He loves to answer us...
...not always exactly the way we think, but knowing that He always knows best, we accept His answer.
In 2002 we had our front yard landscaped, which meant getting rid of many trees. I told the landscaper I wanted to keep this one particular tree in my pine island. Against his expert advice of taking it down with all the rest of the trees, I persisted. I knew it was a scrawny little tree that wasn't very pretty, but I had hopes for it. I believed it would at least provide a little shade out there. The tree really had not had a chance to flourish with so many other trees surrounding it and blocking out the sun. Seventeen years of full sunlight and roomy ground to spread its roots, it had grown into beautiful shade tree.
My thoughts quickly turned to us, as God's children, and how God made us for Himself, to grow and mature in His light, As Paul said in Philippians 2:15, ”...be blameless and pure, children of God in this crooked and depraved generation, shining like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life.” Just as my tree had been surrounded, I was reminded that God made us to be in community with each other, standing together and helping each other see the Son. That's what Shoulder To Shoulder ministry is all about. (See the link below.) We need friends that lead us to the Son, causing us to grow up to full maturity. The trees that surrounded my tree were actually bringing death to it. Once the competing trees were removed, it was able to thrive.
I had to pause and ask myself a few questions and I invite you to join me:
What is shading me from seeing the Son? Do the people closest to me encourage me into the Light or are they bringing a slow death? Maybe its not people at all, but things. What do I allow my eyes to see? Movies/TV shows I watch, or the books I read. What do I allow my ears to hear? Music, gossip, complaining. What do I allow to come out of my mouth? Lies, curses instead of blessings, griping, complaining, negativity, criticisms.
Oh, there's another Philippians verse: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14)
And what about my thoughts?
“Wherever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy; think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
God, show us the people or things we need to rid ourselves of or add to our lives. Reveal anything that is keeping us from your light. Please lead us to a godly community that will encourage us to seek your Son. We want our roots to go down deep in your soil, allowing us to thrive for you. May we offer shade to others who come our way. God, show us the people or things we need to rid ourselves of or add to our lives. Reveal anything that is keeping us from your light. Please lead us to a godly community that will encourage us to seek your Son.We want our roots to go down deep in your soil, allowing us to thrive for you. May we offer shade to others who come our way.
If you're not involved in a community group, Shoulder To Shoulder may be just what you are longing for. Visit our website to learn more.