I grew up in Redondo Beach, California. We lived in the same little old house my entire life. It was small, old and on a crummy street. Still, it was our house and the memories attached to it held strong ties to our hearts. In 1973 the City offered our block of houses incentive to move. They had plans to widen the street and those plans involved tearing down each of the old houses that sat on lots filled with peoples memories created from years of family life. Every homeowner took the incentive and the houses were torn down to rubble and then the rubble was hauled off leaving the plots of land empty, clean and ready for something new.
I didn’t like it at the time. I cried, tried to hold on to the old, resenting the new. None of it did me much good, because the old was gone and the new was going to come whether I liked it or not. So my childhood home was demolished before my eyes. That’s how it is with us sometimes too. In order for our lives to be empty, clean and ready for something new…things get shaken up, demolished before our eyes, or pruned to the nubs. The pruning process is painful and not something we want to embrace, but it is part and parcel of what must happen to make room for something new in our lives.
Today I want to focus on the positive part of the “clearing away of the old” in our lives. It’s easy to focus on the negative, but there is a flip side to the negative and I believe that God would like us to learn ( and yes, it’s a learned position) to live under His Promises rather than settle for living under the pain of our problems. Part of the clearing away that must happen for all of us, is when God begins to expose our pockets of flesh. The flesh being the part of us that is still functioning according to our self power rather than the indwelling power of God’s Spirit. Scripture talks about the flesh as being our un-surrendered sin nature. All of us have parts of us that are not surrendered to God’s Spirit. Often we don’t even realize the areas that are not surrendered until the Lord, in His love for us, allows a circumstance to happen that begins to brush up against our flesh. It is these areas that God clears away little by little. But even the littlest rock being removed from the garden of flesh, is noticeably painful because we have emotional attachments to the way WE have done things, what we have thought about things,and how we have learned to process things.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean says:
“A person without the indwelling Spirit of Jesus is all flesh in this sense. The person in whom Jesus has housed Himself and taken up residence has pockets of flesh still active. Like sleeper cells, they are activated by certain cues form the outside, but until activated, flesh might stay hidden. Hidden or disguised flesh is wreaking havoc inside like undetected cancer cells, free to destroy unchallenged.” From Altar’d, Experience the Power of the Resurrection, by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.
If we all have sleeper cells of flesh, we must be aware that God would desire to clear those away so that we can be truly spiritually alive in our daily lives and interaction with others. The clearing away hurts, just like cancer treatment causes pain and sickness. But, in this spiritual clearing away our hope must be anchored in God’s promises of a better outcome.To live within in the promises we must be in the Word of God to know what some of those promises are.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” John 15:16
Our life is NOT our own. The God who created us had plans in mind for us. Those plans include spiritual fruitfulness, and in order to be fruit bearing, we must be cleared away of “self-life” in order to be built up in the “spirit life” This is done through pruning/ trials, hardships/ endings/changes…whatever it takes to clear away the old stuff.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. ” John 15:1-2
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance.” Heb 12:1
What old thing is hanging on to you and robbing your spiritual life? Is it an attitude, unwillingness to yield to God, not ready to hear His Word and embrace it, living according to the flesh and refusing the spirit’s power and life?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2
Our trials, as much as we hate them, are again…Producing Something.
The promise is…God finishing his work in a certain area, creating perseverance in us so we can run the race he has for us…taking hold of the fruit that HE has appointed us for. Trials are good, clearing away of the old structure in our lives and minds is good, pruning is painful but the cutting away makes way for something new, beautiful and better.
Today think on this Biblical perspective in light of your own life. What is God trying to clear away? Is it painful? Are you fighting it? What would it look like if you surrendered it to God, entrusting His goodness with your path?
Do you have sleeper cells that have been activated by a current relationship or circumstance lately?
Thank God today that he is clearing away the parts of you that are directed and led by your old nature. This clearing away makes room for rebuilding and recreating within you by the Power of God’s Spirit.
“For the sinful nature ( flesh) desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature ( flesh). They are in conflict with one another.” Galatians 5:17
If you are in an internal wrestling match, step back and think about what God’s word is saying here….there is a conflict going. Pay attention.
Back to the beach house…we moved from our home, packing up all our memories. God had something better waiting for us. We never looked back. I am reminded today to find hope in the truth that God always is working for the better our lives. May we have the courage to trust Him and not look back!
One day at a time,