New Life Out of Old
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On a hike, I come across an old, fallen tree, its wood rotting. Out of it grows a sapling. The sapling is not growing out of the ground; it’s growing out of the tree. A new tree rising from a bygone tree. New life out of old.
Some might say it’s like reincarnation, but no, the sapling is not a rebirth of the dead tree. It grows from a seed off a standing tree and finds its nourishment in the decaying wood of the fallen tree. The dead tree only provides the place for the new tree to grow.
We often talk about this kind of thing happening when a person dies or steps aside, and someone new rises up. Whether good or bad, whether we like it or not, the old almost always has to make way for the new.
But this new out of old thing also happens when we suffer, when we fail, when we lose something or someone precious.
Think of times you’ve suffered—physically, emotionally, professionally, or through economic or natural disaster. You may not have deserved it, and it was awful.
Think of times you’ve failed at something—despite your best efforts, it was a flop, or it blew up in your face. You did your best at that job or a relationship, and things did not go well.
Think of times you lost something—maybe your wallet or job, or maybe the life of someone you loved. This thing or person of greatest value is gone, never to return.
Think of any of those misfortunes, failures, or losses as that old, fallen tree. They’re dead and rotting. Then this:promises that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (NIV).
In our suffering, in our failure, in our loss, something dies. And it hurts. We may just want to curl up in a hole or go away or just forget about it and move on. And there’s a time for this, just as there’s a time for the old, dead tree to fall to the ground, and an even longer time for it to rot. But every phase is part of God’s intended process.
But in God’s design—both in nature and in the promises of his Word—that dying phase is never the end. Never.
As Jeremiah lamented the fall of ancient Jerusalem, he stopped in the middle and acknowledged this eternal truth that no matter how great a disaster, even one that was deserved, God will never fail us but instead raise something new, something good, out of the ashes. And with faith and patience we’ll see it:
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him ( NIV).
In our suffering, in our failure, in our loss, a seed is planted. Maybe healing, an attitude, faith, redemption, opportunity, restoration, strength. It sprouts. And it becomes a new tree.
At first, this new turn in life nestles in the decay of the old. But that new thing in us grows. It grows beyond anything our old self could hold—because we grow as people, as sons and daughters of God. And it is beautiful.
What would that seed be for you? And what would that new tree be in your life?
Copyright © 2017 Peter Lundell. Used by permission.
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