I am grateful for my upbringing, no telling where I would be without it, probably nowhere very good, if still here.
My parents were nominal Christians, they took me to our mainline denominational church, got me into activities, and those activities were my Spiritual training.
God has His Hand on my life, (Thank God!), and I did have a few encounters but I would have been clueless without my Christian training that pointed me to the Word of God.
I learned the basics, about Jesus and His life, the Ten Commandments, tolerance and respect for other people and their views, and the Bible verse that “God is Love.” One day that verse would literally save my life when I was younger and condemned harshly (to die) by a preacher who did not share my views!
Had it not been for the love I was shown, I probably would have rejected church altogether after that!
Then in 1976 I found out about and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It DRAMATICALLY changed my life. A well spring opened up inside of me and my zeal had no bounds! I was ready to defy every devil, save every soul, and raise the dead anywhere I might encounter that, even deal with institutions and government if need be.
Well, it doesn’t take that long to figure out that there are some personal limitations on your strength, but I was still greatly impressed by the Life that had been made available to me. I was right in the middle of the charismatic wave and God was near and I did encounter His incredible Presence and saw a number of impressive miracles and ministry.
It was a whole new world. At one point, I gave away everything I had with my zeal to be like the early disciples and live by faith. Well, that faith landed me back at home with my parents who were the nominal Christians with a daughter “on steroids” so to speak. They didn’t know what to do with me, even though God was using that to speak to them.
The only peace that came to the wild household is when I went to church with my mom who had quit going. My dad was content to watch it on tv. (He later got wonderfully saved, but that is another story.)
I was going to every exciting meeting I could get to, and needless to say, my young faith was being tested on a number of levels. I look back and laugh at all that now, but it was a serious development stage in my faith walk. Thank God for patient loving parents!
One Sunday morning at our downtown Methodist Church, trying to suck in every bit of life I could get from those services, I was silently telling God how “dead” it was. Now I had learned a lot of incredible truths that really did hold my life together. But at this stage, all that seemed BORING!!!
As I sat there, explaining that to God, I was telling Him how this church, that had held strong for over a hundred years, was so lacking. I envisioned this incredibly big tree with large extending branches and told him how great the fruit was on it. To me, where I was, was just a tree with no fruit! Not like the fruit I saw!
He just played me along and said, “Really?” Now this conversation is all silent, but very real. I said, “Yes!!! These people are missing it! They are missing the gifts of the Spirit, these wonderful works, this great excitement, they aren’t studying about the fruits and gifts and seeing miracles!” He replied, “That fruit is really grand, is it?”
I replied, “Oh yes!” and just went on and on with Him. And so quietly He said, “What if I cut down the trunk of that tree? What happens to all those full branches and that fruit?”
I was stunned. I knew this was God I was talking to and He could do anything He wanted. I had no choice but to reply, “Then all the fruit is gone!” He had made His point with me. I was not honoring my roots.
All this inner disdain I had (and probably some outwardly) suddenly withered. I realized He was taking me back to the basics, and those basics are not only good but necessary. If the storms came, where was my foundation? It needed to be on His!
I realized there was a progression of truth. And even if some limbs get pruned, you really do still want the trunk of the tree an its root system. It makes for life!
I laugh at this experience but not at what I learned from it. A loving God taught me His ways. My zeal was precious but it needed to be grounded. The fruit was not greater than the tree it came from. My folks were pretty simple folks when it came to Spiritual things, but they were honest and ethical and lived pretty well and content.
I realized that I needed to be a bridge and not a bomb. It just worked better.
While looking for a picture to go along with this of a big tree similar to what I saw in my vision then, I came across this one called “The Salad Tree.” It’s an artist’s mock up but it seems to fit so well. We need it ALL. And we need to have good sense and be planted on the sure foundation.
There are requirements for full life and if we ignore that, we will miss what God wants to do through us and in us.
God bless you~