The world begins to mold and shape us to conform to its operating system at a very young age. We learn the pressures of being competitive in just about every aspect of life, from excelling in school to reaching the mountaintop of our chosen field of work to building relationships and reaching pre-defined milestones of success. All of which in time we come to realize the same truth that King Solomon reached, it’s all vanity! The presence of vanity can erode us from the inside out over time. It will redirect our hearts to a path of destruction that some fail to realize until it is too late.
In the image below, we see a fascinating observation. Looking at the tree on the left, you might say to yourself, “There is a tree that is resilient, well anchored, and has weathered many storms. It has withstood the test of time and battle scares notwithstanding, it still stands strong.” However, when we look at the same tree in the picture on the right, we quickly see that in reality, the tree is hallowed, diseased, and dying on the inside.
The tree analogy is symbolic of people who do not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. People who otherwise appear strong, resilient, and well anchored in life. Such people could and may well be your neighbor, a colleague, a friend, and even a family member. They appear to have it all together in life with a successful career, lots of friends, and a beautiful marriage. Yet, all the while, in reality, they are empty on the inside of spiritual life and are dying. But it does not have to end in spiritual death because God has given each man, woman, and child a choice.
If you are a diver in the water, you have a choice. You can sink into the utter depths of darkness that leads to death or swim up towards the light at the surface that leads to life. Which of those two options would you choose? More than likely, you would decide to swim up towards the sunlight to live. As a person created in the image of God, you have a spiritual choice. You can sink into the utter depths of sin and darkness that leads to death, or you can turn towards the light of Christ who will guide and give you eternal life in heaven. So, in this case, will you not choose eternal life?
Even Christians can be led astray and wander off of the narrow path of which Jesus spoke and fall into sin. That does not mean they have lost their salvation; instead, it does mean they are out of step, out of fellowship with God. But how can such a thing happen to a Christian? The answer is simple, and it is because of our sinful nature that we need daily spiritual care and feeding.
The image below helps to convey that point. It shows what was once a lush green landscape at an abandoned golf course. It once received daily care and feeding by the groundskeeper who knew what and when to feed the grass, trees, and flowers. However, once that day-to-day care stopped, the weeds quickly began to infiltrate, consume, and reshape the landscape and to a point it will soon be unrecognizable.
The old golf course is an excellent visual reminder to us all. It reminds us that without the daily care and feeding we get from God’s word, we run the risk of letting sin infiltrate, consume, and reshape our heart’s landscape to a point when no one will recognize who we have become. That is why Joshua encourages us to meditate on God’s word day and night (Josh. 1:8). When we stay anchored to God’s word, we guard our hearts and sharpen our minds to be alert when temptations arise and to listen to the Holy Spirit’s direction.
In this brief journey we call life, we each are given a choice. We can either continue on the path that leads to eternal death or, like a diver in the water, we can turn to the light, the light of Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life in heaven. In closing, I shall leave you to ponder King David’s wise words. David said:
O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Ps. 34:8)
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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