… barren …

“During the winter, she looked at a barren tree, stripped of leaves and fruit, and realized it awaited the sure hope of a springtime revival and summer abundance.

Gazing at the tree, she grasped deeply the extravagance of God’s grace and the unfailing sovereignty of divine providence.

Like the tree, she felt seemingly dead, but held hope that God had life waiting for her, and the turn of seasons would bring fullness.

At that moment that leafless tree first flashed in upon her  soul the fact of God and a love for God that never ceased.”


“The playwright David Lodge tells a story about a day – November 22, 1963, to be exact – when he was in a playhouse, watching one of his own creations being performed.  There was a scene in the middle of the play where a character, according to the script and the demands of the plot, turns on a transistor radio and tunes into a local station.  On this day, the theater was full.  The actors were caught up in the drama of their performance, the scripted lines and choreographed movements and contrived emotions.  The audience was spell-bound, pulled into the world powerfully conjured up before them.  And along comes this scene.  the character takes the radio, flicks it on: a crackle and hiss of static.  He dials the tuner: a jumble of noise, voices surge and fade, music blares and then sputters.  And then, stark and urgent, a voice breaks through: “Today in Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed …”

The actor quickly switched off the radio, but it was too late.

The reality of the real world had, with just a few plain words, burst in up on the closeted, self-created world of a play being staged.

And the play was over.”***

The reality of His redemptive work is in constant contrast of what the world is now displaying on our big screen TV.   All the evil and injustice that this ministry bring to a shaking, weeping heart is a constant reality of my breathing space.  No longer a closeted, self-created world of a play being staged.  No longer the nitty-gritty concerns of a life spent in North America holds any significance somehow when the real reality sets in to the scene like the news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy burst out in static through a radio in November 1963, like the news of the barren struggles that one has to face on a daily basis that evokes either life or death of oneself or the other.

Through one’s death, however death to me is morbid and soaked with sorrow, new life bursts forth and displays in a new horizon.

I have heard this one-liner testimony from a very famous pastor, “It took a dead guy to get this party started.   Death of my father.”  As he flowed these words out, and I thought, that’s my one-liner testimony, too.  Our Lord took a dead guy to get His ministry started in me.  Death of my father.

Out of the utter barrenness of hope, barrenness of promises, barrenness of life, His bow of brokenness launches the speed of fearlessness.  He, the One who can use all things, the One who can make all things new, launches His arrow of healing.  He, the One who can break in and break us out of all the barrenness, is doing a new thing.

There is only one reality big enough to burst in on all that little plays we script and stage and act out with dramatic intensity or watch with absorbed interest in borderland.

There is only one reality big enough to burst out the gruesome evil taking hold of one’s decision to become a perpetrator when one had long been the receiving end of being perpetrated.  The line between perpetrator and victim is blurry and crooked on which one cannot put a ruler to straighten it.

There is only one reality big enough to break in and break us out of that.  The Word of God.

All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 104:27-35


When JUSTICE is done, it brings JOY to the righteous but TERROR to evil doers.

Proverbs 21:15

***  Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching, ed. Craig Brain Larson (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1993), 279.)


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