Out of all the wonderful things God has created—animals, flowers, mountains, oceans, clouds—trees are possibly my favourite aspect of nature. Whether lacy with snow in winter, freshly budding in spring, shady in summer or fire-red in the fall, I find trees utterly fascinating and often find myself admiring their majesty when walking or driving through a well-treed area.
You can imagine my joy, then, when the City of Outremont planted a young tree on our church lawn recently. Last fall they had to uproot an ash tree in that spot because it had been infected by beetles. In its place now stands a somewhat awkward-looking but healthy bur oak.
This new addition to our property got me to thinking about how humans are a lot like infected trees before we meet Christ. Throughout the city, trees that had been attacked and damaged by the emerald ash borer were cut down and destroyed. These trees could not be pruned, patched up, scrubbed or coaxed back into good health. The old trees had to be removed and new trees had to be planted in their place.
Isn’t that a lot like what God does in our lives when we are born again? Our natural selves are infected with sin and condemned to hell. No amount of good works, no matter how sincere, can scrub sin out of our souls. Discipline, positive thinking, religion, self-sacrifice, and philanthropy cannot eliminate the disease of sin we are born with.
We cannot be made alive in Christ until we put our old self to death—not physically, but in a spiritual sense—and allow Him to live in us and renew us.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul said:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
He also wrote:
“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted…and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Many other verses talk about the importance of being dead to sin and alive in Christ. I especially love how 2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it:
“So if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”
How is your life as a tree? Are you still trying to make it on your own, fighting the sin disease alone? Or have you allowed God to give you a new, whole and fruitful life?
While, I’m here, let me catch you up on what’s been happening this past month and what’s coming up. In brief…
- It’s my 44th birthday (June 2)! I think I’m finally ready to accept that I’m hitting middle age. 🙂
- Great news about my new book, Restore My Soul. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association listed it on its Christian Bestsellers list for May 2016, in 34th position. Check out the list here!
- I wrote a guest blog post for my friend Karin Beery, a writer, editor and writing coach, packed with tips on getting your manuscript ready for submission: Polish Before You Publish. Feel free to share the link with friends who are aspiring (or even veteran) writers.
- I wrote another guest blog post for my friend Chris Maxwell, a pastor an author. This time I write about my creative process from kindergarten to the recent publication of my devotional colouring book. Check out “Created Creative” here. Perhaps it will inspire you to explore YOUR creative side!
- If you can get your hands on a copy of the Summer 2016 issue of The Coloring Studio, published by Stampington & Co., be sure to check out the front inside page. There’s a full-page illustration by me! And I’ll have a couple of illustrations in the fall issue as well. I’m stoked!
Before I go, I just want to remind you that you can connect with me on Instagram and use the hash tags #restoremysoul, #restoremysouldevo or #annhovsepian to share pictures of my colouring book pages that you’ve completed or are working on. I also want to ask you to consider writing a review of Restore My Soul on Amazon as soon as possible. Every review makes a huge difference! If you’d like to see more books from me in the future, I need your help and support. 🙂 Thanks so much!
I wish you all a lovely rest of the week. Don’t forget to bloom where you’re planted!