Been There…Done That!
~ S. Barron 12/14
The damp cold of late December and barren trees of old,
cause my heart to stop and reflect, this saying that’s oft retold;
Been there…done that!
Each bud that lies in waiting from dormant stage doth bring,
a little hope of beauty, when longing for the spring.
This tree of fallen leaves, once graced with limbs of life,
seem bare and dead and cold, as if removed by quick blade of knife.
Then as I think on scripture, and stories of ancient time,
This phrase rings even louder, as I play it in my mind,
Been there…done that!
Jonah, David, Moses, Sarah, with mission for to pine,
Two steps forward and another back, it’s the curse of all mankind.
But its roots are placed down deep within the earth to strongly hold,
And the sap that runs to highest limb, gives courage to reach out bold.
I stare at each branch and see myself, and then my lips doth speak;
Been there…done that! It’s a phrase I oft repeat.
Each ring of life protects the core, from weather harsh and cruel.
Fervent bark, wraps ‘round the trunk, its wisdom longs to rule.
That coat I see and oft neglect, bares rugged scars of old,
Its story can relate with mine, it speaks from limbs that told,
Been there…done that…
This coat of bark is essential, to the buds this tree will bring,
Each wave of storm it handles and cause life inside to sing.
The beauty that lies in waiting, will return from dormant fall,
And in due time those buds will burst, with color at its call!
I wrote this poem one morning while sitting on my porch. The fog from my breath warned me that I probably shouldn’t be outside on such a frigid morning, but it was quiet, peaceful, and the world had not yet awakened. I wrapped myself in a warm blankie and sipped my strong coffee while starring at the clear cold sky and the barren trees. Then I noticed the buds at the tips of the branches. I think my tree is confused…it’s not even close to spring! One never knows what to expect with the weather in Louisiana! I closed my eyes and inhaled the brisk air, as if it would purify my soul and my mind; then I asked God to speak to my heart. The holidays had left me empty and remembering a year I’d really like to forget! But through those difficult seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall, God showed up faithful again and again with His Spirit embracing my heart. Just when I thought I was moving in a forward motion, a little slip pushed me in reverse like a game of tug-o-war! It is no surprise to God that His plan for Kathy and me to focus on The Gifts of Abiding in Christ for our retreats, was something that we both needed to learn. John 15:5 became and is now the verse on which I cling ~ “…for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
It has been said that time is a trainer and teaches us to wait upon the Lord, and trust Him in the dark. A simple practice of saying, “Lord I trust you, for apart from you I can do nothing” acknowledges the kind of faith the Lord requires. We should hold fast to His precious and magnificent promises. I love this passage of scripture from 2 Peter 1: 1 - 11.
1Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
How many times I have felt like I don’t have it all together?! It’s a new day, month, year, and season…all with expectations of starting over…AGAIN! Am I going to dwell on the many ways that I don’t “measure-up?” Where’s the grace in that?
Did you notice verse 8 and verse 10?
As image bearers and followers of Christ, we are partakers of a divine nature (vs.4) but still must practice these things (vs.10). To practice means: repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. Proficient is not above average or perfect! It simply means to develop a reasonable level of skill. I have to remind myself to “stop beating myself up” because I have to start over and don’t have it all together! And yes, I must confess…There are still Christmas decorations adorning my house, dishes in the sink, and the guest room is a wreck! My schedule is packed… again…thank you notes not written, unscheduled time with friends has passed, lesson plans and music not written or chosen, my waist is no smaller, and the porch beckons me, “come, spend time with the Lord…” Help me, Jesus! I cry! Have you been there, done that? Relax and stop stressing! Add a little grace and simply reset!
Pressing the reset button on our life seems to be an activity that is ancient! It’s really called repentance! And like Jonah, David, Moses and Sarah, we all have to reset our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We can’t do it on our own. Remember,…apart from Me you can do nothing?!
As the bark on the trees protects the life within, God cups his hands around you. He carries you to where He wants, sets you down and releases you to bloom where you’re planted. Sometimes, it requires a little intense fertilization, too!
When I think through the many cycles of life:
What really matters is what you do when you are there and what have you done when you pass through to another cycle. It’s called growth! It’s like the rings on a tree and makes you stronger. And in that growth, He is able to do more than you can ever think or imagine! There is no limit to what God can accomplish. When you feel that you are defeated, abide in Christ. When life’s situation and circumstances seem so extreme, the more likely you are to see God’s power and faithfulness as He works in them and through them. So the phrase, “been there, done that” becomes one that’s not so negative! It becomes a reflection of hope. Of peace. Of strength. Of joy! You begin to recognize that, yes, I’ve been there and done that, but the Holy Spirit has also been there and done…__________________ (you fill in the blank) in my life! And that’s when we overcome and bloom! Even when we have been scarred by the fire as seen in the diagram above. It's what shapes us, makes us strong, and gives us strength to reach upward, like the highest limb!
We need to pry our mind away from the what could have been and redirect our focus on what can become. The buds are peeking through! Soon a burst of color will spring forth declaring the glory of God. Be that bud! The sap river of life runs through you. God’s hands of bark encompass you. Abide. Wait. In due time beauty, fragrance, and purpose bursts open for others to see, partake and enjoy!
Been there, done that!
We would love for you to experience a two day retreat that can help you "reset" your longing to abide and rest in Christ. Remember that it is difficult to help others during their trials when we don't take the time to help and care for ourselves. Perhaps you are going through a rainy season in your life and it is filled with much distress, or perhaps it's the dry season and you feel that God is far away. Maybe you have been through the fire and it has left deep scars of pain. The Holy Spirit is there, waiting for you to pull away so that He can cover you with His healing balm. Retreat and reset with us! Take time for yourself. He longs to meet with you! We have all been there, and done that, so you are not alone. In God's faithfulness, He shows up time and time again embracing us with love, grace, and mercy! Won't you join us?
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