The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
Do you see the many leaves
Crushed and broken, torn,
Weeping shittim wood
Arms stretched heavenward
As manna then from heaven
Bare they do remain
But in praises sway
Many branches, side by side
In love’s strong roots
Swaying now in Holy Spirit’s
Own sweet Breath
Beauty in all barrenness
Life where no life
Man could ever find.
And in their swaying
Come, all barren, weary souls
Come find Life in death
Resurrection in arms stretched high
As manna falls.
Have you ever, like me, felt like those barren branches, your leaves crushed, broken and torn? Have you ever, like me, found yourself (or those around you) longing to gather up those leaves, to stick them back together, and onto that tree? Have you ever, like me, found yourself turning away in shame or despair, believing that your lack defines your whole?
What if our barrenness is in fact God’s good purpose? What if we deemed it not a punishment to flee from or an embarrassment to hide from, but rather a place to slow and savor more of His Presence, in communion with our fellow branches? For really “. . . [we] don’t have to be in a hurry. [We]’re not running from anybody! God is leading [us] out of here, and the God of Israel is also [our] rear guard.” (Isaiah 52:12 MSG)
THE POWER OF GOD’S SWEET BREATH
Scripture tells us: “Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.” Leviticus 26:5 NLT So, perhaps these beautiful leaves that have been ripped from our branches and drenched in the weight of our tears carry the Ezekiel-awaited healing (compare Ezekiel 47:12). Perhaps they are seeds being sown for the harvest to come.
Perhaps our barren branches are only barren to help us discover or recover the delight of claiming the promises of our God. Perhaps our wintry circumstances are an invitation to experience the power of God’s Holy Breath, a grape harvest in the dying of our flesh, a resurrection where we would least expect it, restoring our belief in the miraculous. Like Jesus, perhaps we have been called to this very emptying? Perhaps He is asking us to become of no reputation to invite His glory to fill the earth?
Will you join me as I turn toward our mighty God to pour out my own broken heart in worship? May our Abba Father send out His sweet breath of resurrection life upon us all! May He honor the honest pleas of our hearts, as He beckons not just us, but all barren and waiting branches: “Come!”
Father, open my eyes to see the miracle-wonders hidden in your word today (Psalm 119:18). Cause my eyes to see and my feet to walk into the goodness You have set before me right here, in the land of the living.
Thank You that You are kind, patient and gentle in Your leading, because You know my weakness like no other. Thank You, Lord, that you are with me always, no matter how barren I feel and how wintry dark my circumstances and thoughts or emotions may be. Oh, how You know the pain of an incomplete world, but also the joy of eternal completion set before us even now!
Help me, like you, to weep freely. Help me not to cling to or to hide my very real pain, but to release it into Your loving arms. As I do so, open the eyes of my heart to see the beauty that is to come. Turn my mourning into dancing, oh LORD!
Help me to see how all this emptying is making room for the new that is already mine in Christ Jesus. Help my heart to know deep down that I was buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, I too might walk into all newness of life with Him.
FATHER, FORGIVE ME
Forgive me for the times I have tried to fix or put myself back together, according to my own incomplete understanding of what is good and right. Forgive me for the moments I have allowed or encouraged others to fix or put back together what is only Yours alone to bring unto wholeness. Father, forgive me for not entrusting myself and others into Your divine and sovereign hands.
Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, who is even now taking me by the hand and leading me into all the truth there is. Thank You that all I truly need is You — and the way, the truth and the life You have set before me.
Lord, right here and now I lift up my hands to You alone, I choose to worship You for who Your Word tells me You are: always good, always faithful and always true. No, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me and what I have entrusted to Him (2 Timothy 1:12).
I ask You to complete us all in Your understanding and to perfect us all in Your full knowing. Make us One in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in Your beautiful and sovereign timing. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.
Anna is a New Zealand native and daughter of Kiwi missionaries to Germany who has lived in the Netherlands since 2003. She is married to her Dutch husband, with whom she has two dual-citizen, preteen daughters. In 2015, with the onset of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, Anna surrendered her passion for teaching International Baccalaureate English. Through the many surrenders of chronic illness, God has been transforming what was sent to harm Anna into a gift that keeps on giving, as He uncovers, heals, and grows her heart in His love.
Holy Attention, the spiritual discipline of noticing—of being intentionally aware of—God and His creation, draws us into fresh gratitude, recognizing His Hand in every atom of creation.