20 March 2008

Eaton Ford - Leaf and plough

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This evening we were led to a song and some thoughts about growing. We listened to the rain on the roof and thought about ploughing. The main thrust of the meeting was spiritual growth.

We listened to Chris de Burgh's song from 1988, 'Just a Word Away'. Although it's not a Christian song it gives an insight into the way Father feels when a person first believes and is 'born again'. The words are appropriate and the music is quiet, peaceful, and exquisitely gentle.

Green leaves on a treeDonna pointed out that our growth as believers is like a child's growth, it happens daily although we can't detect it, but when we look back over a longer period we can see that we have been changed. However, we can't usually identify particular times when we 'suddenly grew'.

Chris said that we grow like a leaf. A leaf develops from a small bud, then spreads out and stretches and grows and becomes a more definite shade of green. The mature leaf provides the tree with nourishment. Sometimes we might think we do nothing useful, but without any leaves the tree couldn't grow and would eventually die. Our contribution to the church is just like that, it may seem insignificant, but if there were no believers the church itself would no longer exist.

Rachael added that there are two sides to spiritual life. There is growth in good things (like the leaf), but there's also a stripping away of what's not worthy in his sight. Those unworthy aspects of our lives will not survive, they will be destroyed. Chris drew our attention to the wind and rain that we could hear so clearly outside. He said that if he made a leaf out of paper or plastic it wouldn't survive very long outside in the wind and rain. A real leaf is different, remarkably resilient because it's alive. We can cope with the difficulties and challenges of life only because we're alive with his life. Rachael mentioned the process of birth in which a baby is brought from darkness into the light. It takes a long time for the process to be completed so the baby is adapted to the new environment. Maybe it takes us much longer then we expect before we are fully ready for the new life that's ours in Christ. It's a process.

Ploughing the soilRachael also shared a picture of an old-fashioned plough making furrows. The soil needs to be churned up and overturned before something new can be grown. There is a necessary process of breaking before the land can be used. It seemed to Chris that the breaking process is extremely important. It turns hard ground into soft, workable soil. It releases great richness too, so much that the birds follow along behind the plough and there are rich pickings for them! And the weeds that would choke the new crop are destroyed. Breaking is important. We need to be broken just as much as we need to grow. This made Rachael think of the expression 'breaking the mould' which she thought might come from the idea of getting a finished article out of the mould it was made in. In turn this reminded Chris of Michelangelo who once said that a beautiful sculpture was already inside the block of stone, and carving it was just a matter of releasing it for all to see.

The Lord gave Rachael a prophecy. 'Every step someone takes towards me cannot be lost again. That in itself is worth rejoicing over. You make one small step here and another step there, and before you know it you find you have walked 100 yards!' We were reminded of the way a baby learns to walk, at first there's just a single step, before long several steps in a row, and soon the young child is running and jumping.

We'd been talking about a sunrise meeting that some friends are planning. People use the phrase 'something dawned on me' to mean that the thing was illuminated in their mind. During dawn, the light becomes visible. Dawn is a new beginning, a new day, a new start, a new life. The Lord said, 'Let there be light' and there ''was'' light.

Chris read Genesis 1:1-4 and John 1:1-5. Both these famous texts mention the separation of light from the darkness. Darkness cannot comprehend the light, the enemy cannot win and doesn't even understand what is going on.

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