In my previous article I talked about times of pruning by the divine gardener, and how we should find our identity in our bud rather than the branch. The bud is our dream, our intimacy with Christ our future hope for fruitfulness.
We also saw how in the pruning times the vines weeps and then dries back. In the desert time the danger is that the dryness might even destroy the precious bud.
This can sometimes happen leaving a feeling of total devastation and emptiness in the ministry. We may pray, fast and implore the Lord as we see the bud dying…
How do you survive the death of a bud, “the dark night of the soul”, the death of a dream?
Well, we can learn a lesson from good vine dressers…
Always leave a second bud!
Understand that God has left a second bud. There is always the possibility of a new beginning. As your tears dry and you come to terms with the loss and the dry barrenness, you suddenly discover that there is still the possibility of a new dream.
The story of David in 2 Samuel 12:15-25 can illustrate this concept in a moving metaphor of a second chance.
David’s first “bud” is dying, slain in innocence by the sin of its environment. “The Lord struck the child…”
David hangs on, pleading with God, fasting, weeping and spending his nights “lying on the ground.” Like all of us, he cannot bear to see his dream die.
I take great encouragement to see how David reacted at this critical moment of finality.
He “got up from the ground.”
He refused to stay crushed under the weight of sin and failure. He defies the natural gravity of depression and chose to move on. Perhaps God might be asking you to get up from the ground as well?
Seasons of loss can impregnate our spirits with sadness, unbelief and bitterness. It is important to allow the cleansing blood of Christ to wash us clean.
“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:13-14
He “put on lotions”
He “changed his clothes”
Allow the Lord to move you on to a new context. Like clothes that may have become old-fashioned or too small, we might need to put on and move into a more relevant Christian identity.
This was his beautiful victory. Like Job of old, he turned away from his personal problem and lost himself in the contemplation of the divine.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:21-22
May we too have this same worshipful victory of keeping our hearts from any bitter slur against the loving character of God.
The ultimate Comforter, the Holy Spirit, restored David and with the comfort he received he was able to pass on comfort to his wife. Take time to be comforted and restored. If necessary take a time out to heal, and renew the close relational links you may have.
And as he came to terms with his loss…he discovered that God had left a second bud!
He found “Jedidiah”
After the “man of blood” there was the man of peace who would build the temple. After the cross there is always the second bud of resurrection. After the guilt there is always a second chance at innocence.
May you find your second bud today if you need it. May you discover your own new beginning in Jedidiah and may you be truly “loved by the Lord.”