November 10, 2016
Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. – Ezekiel 36:33
The park was alive with laughter as the sun shined on the children playing on the swings, slide, and tunnel at the playground. The loveliness of this community recreational spot gave me, a local resident, a sense of pride as I strolled its paved walkway. I thought of how different it looked on this beautiful day, compared to last winter when a severe ice and wind storm had ravaged the area and many of the trees were snapped in half. Some of the younger trees had been smashed into the ground and others were uprooted. By the time the last of the ice had melted, every area of the park was littered with broken branches.
Then, about a month after the storm, I noticed dozens of cars and trucks parked near the park. On closer inspection, I saw a large number of warmly clothed neighbors busily sawing branches and tree debris, and then hauling it away. These dedicated workers continued cutting, cleaning, and replanting for several days, despite the poor weather. Now, as I walk through the restored park, I marvel at the change.
The ruin and destruction in the park is similar to the condition of our hearts before we come to the Lord asking for forgiveness of our sins. We are full of the “branches” of broken dreams and ugly sinful habits. The “ice and snow” of the world have left us cold and numb, yet the pain can still be felt. But when the Lord saves us, the cleanup begins! He removes broken branches, and hauls out truckloads of sin in an instant. He plants seeds of love, joy, and peace, and warms our hearts with His love. The change is apparent right away. This wonderful new life the Lord gives is beautiful and clean; the old debris has been taken out, and all things have become new.
Only God can cause this transformation in a life, but as Christians, there is something we can do to help. Like my neighbors who offered their time and labor, God is looking for laborers in the Gospel. He needs people who are willing to sow seeds of truth in the lives of others, and then pray for them to allow God to make a marvelous change in their lives. Our task may not be easy; the weather conditions might become harsh, and we will probably grow tired at times. But our efforts will be rewarded when lives that have been ruined by sin are restored and made beautiful.