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Let Perseverance Finish its Work

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4 (NIV)

In Arizona there is a scientific research facility called Biosphere 2. It is an enclosed miniature version of earth’s biosphere, but this one is about the size of three football fields. The facility includes a rainforest, desert, ocean with reef, and farmland, complete with plants, animals, and insects. Its original purpose was to study whether an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem with human habitats could be built on another planet. While the scientists carried out their original research, they discovered other curious findings. One was that the trees would grow faster in Biosphere 2 than trees on the outside, but these trees would fall over before they matured. The scientists realized that the problem was a lack of wind. Regular trees grow something called stress wood in response to the wind, and this is what allows them to grow tall and strong. The trees inside the research facility had no wind, so they were unable to stand.

            God created the earth’s ecosystems as part of his plan, and as a result, everything works together perfectly, including the wind and the trees. And since we know that humans are also part of this plan, we can know that God created us the same way. Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV) explains that “as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Just as God has a purpose for the rain to water crops, he has a purpose for us humans to achieve his plans. Everything works together for His glory.

            So just as trees need stress to mature, we too as humans must endure trials in order to grow strong. We may wonder why we have hardships and temptations, but if we did not experience any stress, we would be too weak to stand, just like the trees in Biosphere 2. James 1:2-4 (NIV) says “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” While in the midst of trials, we need to remember that we are living in God’s plan, and that we could be growing perseverance now so that we can stand strong later.

Walking with you in Christ,

Erin Tabor

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.freeimages.com/photo/tree-1174007

Like a Little Child

 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 
Luke 18:17 NIV

It is while wearing two of my hats, military wife and mom, that I speak to you today. As some of you have experienced, military life requires going where the Army says to go at any given time. Even if we are happy, content, and rooted where we live, we must go, and uprooting always causes my mind to spin with ‘why’ questions that have no answers. Therefore, when there are unknowns coming up, I like to line up plan A, B, C, D, and then D2, D3, and D4 because of my human need to be in control.  Reality though, will inevitably involve something I didn’t even think of (such as buying a house in Colorado just to find out that our orders were changed to Georgia). I think though, that this military lifestyle is a lesson in how to surrender to God. I must remember that God is bigger than the Army (and if He is sending me to Georgia then there must be important kingdom work for me to do there).

My kids on the other hand, don’t need to worry because they trust and depend on me. As I schedule movers, declutter, change dentists, and transfer school records, they have the freedom to play outside, run, pretend, and imagine without knowing all the answers because it is their job to be curious and enjoy life. My kids don’t need to plan and schedule because they know that I will take care of them.

I need to remember that for me, as a child of God, there are plans in motion that I can’t even see and a future that I can’t even imagine. God has me in his hands. I can trust and depend on Him and (this is the hardest part) surrender my ‘why’ questions, my worrying, and plans A, B, C, D, and even D2, D3, and D4 to Him because He is in control, not me. Hebrews 11:1 NIV says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Similarly, 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This means that God doesn’t even want me to try to handle it myself, for if I have faith, and admit that I can only succeed with God, then his glory is shown. Luke 18:17 NIV says “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” We are required to surrender our worries, and then enjoy the freedom of not knowing all the answers! (and then go play with our kids)

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor

                                                                                  

Digging up weeds

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”
Matthew 15:13 NIV

There is a small garden in front of my house that goes around my front porch. I am not a gardener by any stretch of the term, so this bed has grown over with weeds and perennials that try to squeeze in between the vines. Considering this is the first thing someone sees when visiting my house, it is not a grand first impression.  I asked my mother for advice and she suggested replacing the whole garden with one kind of tree or shrub that I could take care of and that would make my yard look more uniform and appealing. Thankfully, when I visited her last fall she gave me some maidenhair grass from her own garden that I could take home and plant in my own.

The hard part came when I got home and had to clear all of the weeds, vines, and assorted perennials out of the ground. As I worked down in the soil with a shovel to pull out more and more roots that were longer and deeper than I had initially suspected, I chuckled and compared this to the work of pulling out the old roots of sin in our hearts. Just as there is no room for the new healthy grasses in my garden if I don’t pull out the old weeds, there is no room for God in our hearts if we don’t get rid of the old habits in our lives.

In Matthew 15:13 NIV, Jesus said “every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” He was referring to the Pharisees that were preaching a misguided message, but we can apply this illustration to our own lives by pulling up every root that does not glorify God. In John 15:2 NIV, Jesus explained that “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

If I hadn’t cleared out the old weeds before I planted the new grasses, they wouldn’t have had a chance to grow. Digging deep old sins out of the soil is hard sweaty work but the goal is becoming more like God. In Luke 8:7-8 NIV, during the parable of the sower, Jesus said “other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” It takes good soil (or a clean heart) to grow more with God than we could ever accomplish ourselves.

In Christ,

Erin Tabor

Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/agriculture-backyard-blur-close-up-296230/