Several cedar trees tower over our house. They’re about 80-100 years old, according to the arborist who came out. And this time of year, many of the fronds turn rust-colored. Not to be outdone, the leaves on a gargantuan maple tree in the yard also turn yellow edged with rust. Some of the leaves immediately go brown, fall, and bedeck the yard like craft-supply scraps. But many leaves hang on for dear life.
Switch gears. I’m a writer. I write novels, and lately I’ve been plotting one. Well, re-plotting really because it needed some serious work. Jeff Gerke offers some great tools for writers. In his Plotting for the Character-First Novelist eBook, he explains how we writers have to go about pretending to be the god of our characters. Now, hear me out because that doesn’t sound like something you’d expect to read here at Net’s Notes. Here’s where I’m going with this: as a writer defines her character and then puts that character on the fast track to change (80,000 – 90,000 words is all you get to accomplish a profound character arc), they have to push the character toward change. Writers motivate characters to change.
Same’s true in our lives, and that’s why this method of plotting works. It’s how God relates with us. As the Author and Finisher of our faith, as our God, He positions us in life so we’re faced with the option to change. Here’s the cycle: He points out a better way to live, we resist because we don’t like change, then He escalates the motivation until we’re convinced and finally relent. Resonates, doesn’t it?
Rack your brain with me. What are some changes you know you need to make, but haven’t? You’re semi-comfortable where you’ve always been. You’ve settled there like that fallen leaf in my yard. Bugs treat you like part of the landscape and make their way around or over you. Birds land on you. Nothing moves you.
Well, except for wind.
Confession time, and please don’t tell our neighbors, but we don’t rake our yard. We’re fenced in on every side, so that fact shouldn’t affect the neighbors. (I do regret that the huge maple spills leaves into their yards, though.) Why bother raking when the winds will come? What does the wind do? It sweeps the green lawn clean and tucks the leaves into the corners of the yard where we can get to them in spring, if we want. Wind changes the landscape and those immovable leaves get moved, like it or not.
Same’s true for those cedar fronds. Wind changes everything. Strong Autumn winds come along and clear the trees. Suddenly, there is no more resistance to change.
Then the trees rest. So does the wind. See the tie-in?
God’s asking us to change. He really does have the best for us in mind. And yes, change isn’t fun. It’s not comfortable. And it's not often pretty. But things’ll turn out better if we just get on with it. We’ll turn out better if we cooperate.
If we don’t? He’ll bring the wind. Ever since a huge tree missed our house by only a few feet as it fell years ago, I’ve been a bit apprehensive where wind storms are concerned. Remember those cedars I mentioned? Yeah. We’re surrounded. They come down, we’re toast.
But they’re not going anywhere. The other benefit of 80-100 years in our windy climes is that their roots are deep, strong. Those trees are anchored.
Wind storms make me pray. Intensely. I hold my breath waiting for the next gust and press really close to God. My “roots” go deep in Him. And the same’s true in my life. He brings motivation (wind), and I dig deep in Him. He’d been chasing me but suddenly I’m chasing Him.
And when the storm is over, I see His wisdom. The trees are cleared and the winds die down. And then, a season of rest. Followed by a season of new growth and beautiful life.
One night as I prayed about the wind storm roaring like a freight-train convention outside the window, God told me fall winds had to happen; that's how He designed things. It's how those fall leaves and dead cedar branches get cleared and make way for a new season. The trees cooperate and they earn their rest.