August 20, 2009
By Renee Swope
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
My dearest friend, women’s ministry director and mentor was moving - hours away! This was the woman who had believed in me, invested in me and encouraged me. She’d also prayed for me and stood beside me as I overcame fears and doubts, following God's call into ministry.
How was I going to make it without her?
Trying to find a distraction for my despair, I decided to tackle long overdo yard work. As I headed out to our shed, I noticed a rose bush the previous homeowner had planted. It was in full bloom, displaying her splendor through gorgeous pink blossoms across the center of our split rail fence.
How did that happen? I wondered.
Although I’d never used it, I remembered seeing rose fertilizer in our shed so I decided to use it. I pulled the weeds away from the bush’s base so the plant food could sink into the soil and noticed the root ball had four sections.
Should I leave the sections all together or divide and place them at different posts on the fence?
If I planted them at separate posts, their vines would eventually connect and create a blanket of pink draped across the whole fence. With that image in mind, I knelt before the blossoming beauty and pressed my hands into the dirt to find the right places to separate the root ball.
At that moment, I sensed God whisper to my heart that the rose bush was a picture of what He was doing with the women's ministry I loved. Each of us serving on the ministry team had been carefully planted in our giftedness, nurtured and encouraged through prayer, equipped through training and fertilized by opportunities to serve. We had become a display of God’s splendor.
But, like this plant, we had reached the fullness of His glory in our current soil. I sensed Him telling me that we were ready to be divided into separate plants so that His glory would be more fully displayed, as He planted each of us uniquely and individually in new places of ministry.
I couldn’t bear the thought of it. Would there be more pruning? More breaking up of what had taken years to establish? This was nowhere in my plans and dreams!
It is so painful when God allows our dreams to be shattered, our hearts to be broken, our relationships to be separated and our fears to be realized. I really doubted what God was doing. I doubted any good could come from such loss. I doubted that I could make it through the pain. Yet, as I imagined God's glory being more fully displayed, my heart settled into a place of surrender. It wasn’t my plan, but if it was for His glory, wasn’t that what I wanted? Wasn’t that what Jesus did? Would I also trust Him to ease my sorrow and bring something good from it?
That day I knelt on holy ground in front of my rose bush and surrendered the broken dreams in my heart. Even if it meant letting go of what I loved so deeply, it would be worth it if others would see HIM more fully in my life and eventually in my ministry.
Are you in a season of being uprooted? Has God re-arranged your plans and your future? Are you struggling to trust His ways?
Jesus’ life and death displays God’s promise to turn our despair into divine joy and our loss into a legacy as we depend on and trust in Him. I didn’t think I could make it. But five years later, I see how God took my doubts and sorrow and used them to draw me into absolute dependence and sweet surrender to Him – for the display of His splendor.
Lord, I want to reflect Your glory through the display of my dependence on You. As painful as it is, I realize Your splendor is revealed in my brokenness as I rely on Your love and strength. I put my trust in Your plans and not my own today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Renee’s blog for more thoughts on surrendering to God’s promises and plans.
Beyond the Shadow of Doubt: Becoming The Woman You Already Are in Christ,
a message on DVD by Renee Swope
Click here for more of Renee’s Resources.
Reflect on today’s power verse, Isaiah 61:1-3. List ways that God has, or ways you want Him to fulfill these promises in your life.
Am I going through a season of surrender? Am I struggling to trust God’s ways?
If you want more encouragement or prayer, click here to let Renee know how she can pray for you.
Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” (NIV)
© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105