Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fuzzy Felt and chainsaws

Evening, Lord God. 

You know how you tell me things, and I don't get it? Well, I want to understand. I don't want to miss the point. It seems important. 

The other day, I was in a prayer meeting praying for the ministry among women at our church. There is already a women's ministry at our church; lots of things are already going on, but it has felt for a while now that a time was coming to bring all the strands together somehow. To become a team, maybe.

I'm not really sure why, or how - I'm just sure that it's what we're supposed to do. 

So anyway, a group of us, praying. Over the months there have been a surprising number of words and pictures given to us that seem to be relevant to women in church, and women in general.
  • We have had pictures of climbing a mountain enveloped in fog, clinging to each other, and getting to a high place where the view is clear and beautiful. 
  • An oasis in a desert, ladies laughing and having fun together, uninhibited and unselfconscious. 
  • A lion confined in a cage, pacing back and forth as we eat a picnic from a red and white checked cloth, perfectly safe. 
  • A tree, firmly rooted in you, stretching tall and strong, bearing fruit of every type. People coming from far and wide to choose and pick fruit from the beautiful tree. 
So, there I was. Trying to make my mind blank like a black Fuzzy Felt board so that you could draw me a picture.

Sometimes I think I try too hard, and I know that you're not dependent on me creating the perfect environment for communication; you are just as capable of grabbing my attention in the supermarket frozen foods aisle with a six year old in my trolley as when I am trying to empty my mind of everything.

So, suddenly on my Fuzzy Felt mind was an aerial picture of a church. Not from straight above, but the sort of view you'd get from a hot air balloon looking sideways over a town. Neither was it our church, for this one had a tall steeple. Indeed, all I could see of this church was the roof and the steeple, because all around it were trees. Big, mature trees. So close that the walls of the church were obscured. It must have been very dark inside. I couldn't see a door in the church, or any ground around it. It was a church totally crowded with trees.

I knew that there were people in the church. I don't know what they were doing, but they were in a huddle in the middle of the building. There weren't many.And then, I suddenly became aware that the trees need to go.

They need to be chopped down.

There was to be a row of tree-stumps around the church, allowing light to stream in through the windows. 

So people could find it. Anyone passing by on the nearby road might have missed the church, unless they glanced up high and saw the spire pointing heavenwards out from the canopy of trees. Surely this church was hidden. 

Choked. 

The church needed to breathe again. The people inside needed light and air. They were going to come out of the church doors and rejoice at the sense of space. They could see the sun. They could look into the distance where before they could only see the trees.They would be able to see the area around the church too. They could see the passers-by, the people who hurried by without even knowing that the church was there. 

What does it mean, Father?  Is this some sort of sign? What can I learn from this? 

There's a bit more. 

Another day I was sitting quietly in the garden and a neighbour began to cut down a tree in his garden. This tree is on his side of the fence, completely his to cut down, but I wish he hadn't. I liked it there. And because he's cut that one down, we'll probably have to cut down one of ours, as the missing tree had enveloped it so completely that it's unsightly and stunted.

I began by having an internal moan about the noise of his chainsaw, which shattered my peace and destroyed concentration. I don't like that he's cut down the tree because now we have less privacy in our garden - it feels much more open now.

I also went on to develop my grumpy feelings by reflecting that the tree in question has been there all my life; and so no wonder I liked it where it was. I am very used to it.

I scowled for quite some time. 

It got me thinking back to the church choked with trees. I love trees, and I've never really thought of them as being restrictive, or unwanted, but in this picture the trees were suffocating. Pressing in. Swamping. 

They need cutting down to enable the people inside to breathe, and the people outside to take notice. They might even come in and say hello, if they could see the way in.

Quite separately, someone who isn't involved with the women's ministry at church passed on a picture she had to my friend, because she thought it was relevant. She said that it was an axe, at the base of a tree.

Hmm.

I'm forever asking you for clarity, Lord, and I think the message loud and clear has to do with trees and the cutting down of trees. Correct me if I'm wrong...

I've started noticing trees being cut down all over the neighbourhood. I came across a clearing in a wood not far from my house the other day and in it was a huge pile of logs and tree trunks. A patch of dense woodland had been cleared and the sunlight streamed in  - it was a beautiful, peaceful place. 

 It's not the first time that I've had a picture from you about trees being cut down.

There's a special place in my mind that we go, sometimes, Jesus and me, and one day a long while ago you showed me a formal garden there, and a row of what had been large trees, now just a row of stumps. I knew that these trees had been hard to cut down.

It had taken a lot of work, a lot of emotional effort and had taken a long time. I knew that the clear view from that garden had been hard won. 

But what a view. Now, from that lawn, I could see across an expanse of cliff-top to the glittering sea. The sunlight sparkled on the waves and the sea birds soared above. Endless sky, vast ocean.

Openness, light, air. I could breathe.

This is my spacious place.

You cut down the trees - or you are in process of cutting them down, so that I could see further and not have my view limited by the leaves and branches.  By anything standing in my way.

The tree that the neighbour cut down today definitely enables me to see further, but I feel more vulnerable too. The trees in the church picture clearly need to come down - they're oppressive. The trees in my cliff top place are gone and that's a source of joy. 

Are trees things that block a clear view of you? 

Things that maybe have been there a long time, like the one in my neighbour's garden, or the ones on the cliff top, which had left stumps wide enough to sit on?

Do the trees represent stuff that is deeply rooted and obscuring the truth? Things that get in the way?

Things that choke and suffocate, and need to be removed so that light can flood in and illuminate the shadows?

So that people can breathe again and find a way out, and people can see the beauty of the building and the people inside and find their way to the door?

Will you cut them down? Do we? 

Oh, God, I'm trying to make sense of all this, but I can't seem to see the wood for the trees. Ha ha. 

I need a bit of help. A wise person, someone skilled in interpreting Fuzzy Felt creations from the Creator. Or a bit of insight.

A nudge. 

Thank you so much for talking to me. So often I wonder that other people seem to know what you want but I am still in the dark; and then you talk to me and I look puzzled and ask you if you'd mind repeating that, more slowly this time? 

The funny thing, Lord (not funny to you, I'm sure, and I mean funny remarkable rather than funny haha) is that ladies from every different corner of our church are coming together and contributing words of scripture, things that they've prayed about or pictures that have come from you. The number of times someone has said, 'I'm not the type of person who gets things like pictures, but...' 

It has to be from you. 

So, Lord, I have no agenda. I want to hear clearly. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see and a mind that doesn't add two and two and come up with eleven. This is about you, not me.

What's with the trees?





Image credit:  axe pic (plumb axe.jpg) by taliesin.  Courtesy of Morguefile.com.  Used with permission.
Other images mine. 

Linking with Tania Vaughan's Monday Ministry (better late than never?)
Also with Jennifer Dukes Lee on Tell His Story

14 comments:

  1. I think you may have me noticing the trees around me today. I love your honest communication with God ...the discovering and questioning. Knowing there is a message from Him, but working through understanding just what His message is. I really, really enjoyed this. Thank you. Blessings to you.

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    1. And to you! Thank you for being so encouraging. x

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  2. Maybe pruned back rather than cut? I don't like trees to go and I have my own story about that-- but I know that pruning is needful, necessary, fruit-bearing. Cut or prune? Is it choice? I don't know but I believe you'll get your answer.

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    1. Yes! Yes, I know. Me too. I love trees and hate to see them chopped down - I wonder if this is part of what God is telling me. Even precious things have to make way? Thank you for reading and taking the trouble to comment.

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  3. I love how the Lord speaks to you in such vivid mind-pictures. I have a friend, Emily, who experiences God's love and care for her (and His direction) in the same way. What a gift.

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    1. Thank you! Thank you for reading, and commenting, and for the opportunity to link up. :-)

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  4. Maybe for now, it's enough to know that some (metaphorical) trees need to be cut down, and more insight will come to you when the time is right? I know it's maddening not to have the answers yet, though!

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  5. I've been cutting the excess foliage out of my life for the past few months and I can see things a lot more clearly now.

    God advises us in ways we don't always understand, until we take time to slow down and think.

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  6. I'm sure you're right. I know His timing is perfect.... I'm not very good at waiting though!
    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. x

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  7. I like what Martin said about cutting out excess foliage. That is what I am doing too. Regarding trees, when we lived in PA I could look up at beautiful tree tops when lying in our bed. How I loved those trees - reaching up to the sky. Then after several years, the land behind our condo was being developed and all those trees got cut down. I was so very sad because i really loved those trees. But then the next morning, when I opened my eyes in bed, I saw a glorious sun rise! It had been blocked by the trees! When God takes away something, He replaces it with something even better. Love to you, Amy

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    1. Oh, Amy, that's a lovely interpretation and I'm sure that's what's happening. I've been focusing on the loss of the trees - whatever that might mean - and I love your last line, 'he replaces it with something better.' Oh yes please.
      Thanks for this.

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  8. I don't know what the trees mean, but the process you're going through is such a blessing to me! I am blown away at the willingness of your women to pray and ask for direction corporately. We are in such need of that spirit of unity and prayer. (I've struggled to comment on your posts lately because I want to write a novel in response!) I pray the Lord will continue to reveal Himself to all of you, and I pray we would desire to seek Him and patiently wait through the odd visions for His will instead of the quick fixes of man. If He's given you all this much, He'll be faithful to finish the picture.

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  9. My wife put on canvas what the Spirit relayed to her the following:
    "For there is hope for a tree if it is cut down, that it will sprout again and that the tender shoots of it will not cease. Though its roots grow old in the earth and its stock dies in the ground. Yet through the scent [and breathing] of water [the stump of the tree] will bud and bring forth boughs like a young plant" (Job 14:7-9 AMP). I'll try to transfer a copy on FB of her painting and maybe it will give some clarity to what you are seeing from the Lord.

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