1 Chronicles 28:20

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.

This is perfect advice from father to a son. David has told the all the leaders that Solomon will be building the temple. This is part of what he then addresses directly to Solomon. David had lived a lifetime of being a man after God’s heart. He knew God’s character, and this allowed him to give Solomon this hope.

What can we learn from this? Can this apply to us today? We know that God’s character hasn’t changed. While God was with them in the Old Testament, He is in us through the Holy Spirit. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). He has also planned good works for us to do (Eph 2:10).

So, our work for the Lord is never finished this side of heaven. He has promised never to leave us, and He is always with us. Therefore, we also should always be strong and courageous, we should act, and we should not fear nor be dismayed.

A Special Dogwood

Yesterday, I looked out of my back window, and saw that my dogwood tree is flowering. Joy rose in my heart, because this was a gift from God directly to me. You may be wondering what is so special about this event. After all, it is mid-late March in the Atlanta area. Dogwood trees are beginning to bloom all over town. However, this dogwood is special.

In the first few years after moving into our house in Snellville, the local nursery was offering free dogwood shoots to those people who brought their Christmas trees to be mulched. So, we returned our tree and received 4-5 little “treelings” with a few strands of root on each. I called them “treelings”, because there weren’t even big enough to deserve the name sappling. We put them in the ground across our back property line. Over the next few years, most of them succumbed to dogs, careless lawn mowing, or just the natural death of tiny tree shoots. However, one of them, in the back corner of our yard kept growing.

This tree has no reason to thank me for its growth. I may have fertilized it a few times over the years, but as our landscape matured, most of the plants just have to fend for themselves. Whatever water and soil nutrients the tree needed, it had to get from nature alone. Truly, only God was tending to the needs of this tree.

This tree has only bloomed twice before this year. As it got old enough to bloom, we added a shed to our yard that unfortunately shaded it from getting enough light to produce flowers. Years went by, and it bloomed about 10 years ago. Then the trees around it shaded it out. Most of those trees are in the neighbors’ yards, so there was nothing we could do about them. This year, it has finally, again found enough light to produce flowers. I anticipate there will be a few berries for the birds this fall.

Why does this tree give me so much joy? God showed me that this tree is like many of us, me included. It probably started life in a woodland behind the local nursery as a volunteer from one of their dogwood trees. It was dug out of the ground, wrapped in a paper towel, and given to someone who had no idea what it needed to grow and thrive. It had no say on where it was planted. It may have had a few times when someone tended to its needs, but most of the time, it had to rely only on God to provide what it needed to grow.

Don’t we feel like that sometimes. I know that I have. Sometimes, we have no idea how we got to a particular situation in life. Maybe we have someone who can help with our spiritual growth, but maybe not. We long for the light, so that we can bloom and produce fruit. But sometimes, we can’t find the light. We go years feeling like there is nothing but shadow all around.

But we are not forgotten! Though no one else may be around to help, God is always there. Even when we feel like we are in darkness that never ends, God is there. Just like He tended this dogwood tree, He makes sure that we have what we need. Though the tree may have craved more water and more nutrients, it had just enough to keep going. And here or there, just like the tree, there is enough light for us to bloom. The light may not last. We may produce fruit this year, then feel we are in the dark again next year. But God is still there. He is still caring for us. We will bloom again. We will produce fruit.