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A Righteous Life Results from Nurture, Not Neglect

     All nature reflects the grandeur of the Lord, but my front yard reflects my busy lifestyle.  Despite lack of water and attention, those bushes and flowers continue to strain upward, begging for mercy – a miraculous testimony to the resiliency of life.  Occasionally, in the summer, I water or fertilize.  But other than mowing the grass regularly in season, my landscaping often gets neglected.

     This summer, however, I finally took notice of a problem that could be ignored no longer.  From the road, as I whizzed by in the car, I realized that our blue spruce tree looked uncommonly sick.  “I’ll have to look at that one day,” I said to myself.  Weeks went by and the tree worsened.  “Probably needs water,” I thought, throwing the hose on it full blast before running in to fix dinner.  But plenty of rain that week had given the surrounding plants a happy renewal.  Something deeper was wrong.

     Finally, after a month of cursory observation, I decided to take a closer look.  In my good shoes, I walked with determination across the damp yard and peered inside the tree.  The once luminescent blue spruce was a bare stalk with only the tips of the branches now green.  Stepping back, puzzled, I noticed droopy round clumps of needles hanging on the outer edges of the branches.  In fact, these needle clumps were all over the tree!  I picked one and inspected it closely, realizing to my horror that a nasty black worm squirmed inside it.  I stood back in disgust and surveyed the whole tree with new eyes – every branch writhed with tiny black pests, a total infestation of bagworms.

     The worms had sapped all the energy from the poor tree, and, over time, the stress had become visibly evident.  If I took no immediate action, the worms would consume the tree.  If the worms didn’t kill it, then, in its weakened state, winter surely would.  I spent four hours hand-picking each worm nest off that tree, and my labor reminded me of the importance of nurturing the Christian faith to protect it from onslaught.

     If we occupy ourselves with efforts or activities that do not reflect Godly priorities, then we may find our righteous life eaten away from the inside.  Acquiescing to a bad habit, bitterness, a critical spirit, pride, a rebellious attitude, or some other secret sin drains energy, and, living with such a parasite, over time, ultimately destroys the soul. What will I do when the toughest winters of life hit if I have sapped my energy stores with ungodly behaviors or thought patterns that consume me?

     We must be vigilant to protect our hearts against slow and quiet invasions that present a dangerous threat to the righteous life if left unchecked. What dark poison needs surgical removal from my life in order for me to thrive?  What needs pruning  in order to draw closer to the Lord?  God wants us to thrive, not merely survive.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

     “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”

Copyright © 2008-2015 Julie Strohkorb

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