Growth and Vulnerability1
Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
- Ezekiel 17:22
There’s a world of difference between a tender twig and a brittle twig. As we close out the week, we’re going to be reflecting on vulnerability and the Lord’s work in us.
In today’s passage, the Lord says that he’s like an eagle plucking a tender twig from the top of a cedar tree and transplanting it to the top of a high and lofty mountain. He wants that new tree to be healthy. Working with a tender section of the old tree is essential if the new tree is going to have a chance to take root and thrive.
We each develop strategies in life to make us less vulnerable. This is natural and totally okay. We live in homes to reduce our vulnerability to the whims of the weather. We wear clothing to protect us both from the weather and prying eyes. We set healthy emotional boundaries to limit the influence that toxic relationships can have on us.
At the same time, it’s our vulnerabilities that create space in us for joy, intimacy, and relationship. CS Lewis said that a heart that cannot be hurt cannot experience love. We’ve found this to be true.
Life hardens us. We get tougher and that’s okay. But the Lord will find the tender places in us, the places where we’re vulnerable, and that’s where he’ll do his best work in us. He’ll find those tender places in our hearts even if he has to soar up into the heights to find them. If you want to discern where he’s at work in you, look for where you’re vulnerable.
For many of us life in the church brings our vulnerabilities to the surface. We struggle to open up to others or with our expectations for how others will respond when we open up to them. We have flashbacks to painful and uncomfortable church experiences. We take risks to love each other.
This is perhaps never more true than when a church is growing. Growing churches can have beautiful and transformative influence in the lives of people in the surrounding community, as we’ve discussed this week. But growing churches sometimes find that relationships get strained as more and more “strangers” join the community. And growing churches often have to talk about money, volunteering, and unity. Just as the actively growing parts of the tree are the most tender, the growing parts of God’s global church are the most vulnerable.
Let’s make an extra effort this week to pay attention to where God’s at work in our lives and in our community, to pay attention to those tender and vulnerable spots. And, as far as possible, let us ask the Lord to help us to be gentle with each other.