"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22
What bark to do we have that is covering up our heart? Yes, I mean bark as in a dog letting others know to stay back. If not, well those teeth are going to attack. Oh, we seem to carry a bark louder than our bite, but when we do, watch out. We carry so much junk in our trunk that is hard for us to focus on what is really important because our attention no matter what it is keeps bringing us back to what is causing us to bark at everyone.
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32
We think it's what others are doing and saying. We become easily offended at words and we wear our heart on our sleeve. We take umbrage and we are on defense all the time. It is almost as though we have the attitude of I will attack before I get attacked. We stand at stance ready for that next blow. Why? We become so use to blow after blow we just expect it. But that isn't what everyone is after. Most people just want to love us. They want to be friends. They want to reach out in kindness, but too often we push them out of the way before we really get a chance to know them.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5-7
Our hearts can carry quite a load. That is why Jesus calls us to share our burdens. We can't stand up right with such a heavy load. We end up looking down and never looking up to see the good any longer. We get knocked down and seem to stay there. The more we give to God the less we carry and therefore the stronger we are to stand.
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
"My peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
I love those huge majestic trees. Those that seem to reach the sky and give cool shade. Those that are inviting to climb and read a good book in under. Think about it. Those trees have been through a lot. I mean a lot. The wind and rains that have attacked over the years. People wanting to cut them down and tearing limbs off. But yet, they have made it through. They have withstood the test of time. Sure some bark may have come off along the way. They may have lost a few leaves in the wind, but they are still standing strong and mighty. Taking each gust of wind with grace as they bow. But look at what they give back? Beauty, shade, comfort on a warm day. A place of rest for many. They are grand and awesome to look at. They reflect a Creator who designed them to stand tall and reach heaven ward. Roots that are grounded and a trunk that is cased with protecting love. Buds springing forth new seed. Leaves of all color and kind.
"That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24
When we carry anger, bitterness, hate, wrath, jealousy and strife we cannot help but be weighed down. We too place in our bag worry, anxiety, loss, bewilderment and everything we can stuff in there. (Words from a woman who carries a big bag.) We take things of yesterday and hold onto them so tight we are afraid of what today will bring. We are about to fall in despair from carrying such a load. A weight that brings us down into a pit. Isn't that usually where trees that do not make it go? Those that didn't withstand the attacks find themselves in a wood pile.
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2
"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Psalm 27:14
Sometimes we do need a pruning. We need for some of that extra weight to be cut off so we can grow into the mighty warriors God created us to be. What a better time to begin pruning than as spring is right around the corner. We don't need that extra weight, those dead limps and those that are ready to fly off and hit the roof. Spring is a time of renewing. Today can be the first day of spring for you. Whatever your heart is holding onto let it go. As we let go of all that burdens us may we replace it with love and kindness. In doing so our bark won't be so loud and the beauty that shines through will be inviting.
"I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:1-2