When early Australians began to open up the land for farming, they encountered problems related to clearing the land of trees. The invention of the stump-jump plough was of tremendous help to these pioneer farmers. Whilst a conventional plough could not be used because it would constantly jam on the remaining tree stumps, a stump-jump plough allowed them to plough land cleared of trees without removing the stumps, and so crops could be planted. Stump removal could occur at a later time without hindering the farmer's task of growing crops.
When we begin our journey as followers of Jesus, some massive clearing often takes place. Many of the habits of the old life are cleared as we surrender to the Lordship of Christ, and new fruits begin to appear - the fruit of the Spirit. How exciting a time this can be in our life - God is wonderfully at work! It can be overwhelming to see the growth taking place. However, the work of God has only just begun. The task of coming back and taking out the stumps still remains. For the farmer this task required a great deal of sweat and toil - the tree roots had a significant hold on the landscape and the task was a manual one. For us the "less-visible sins" remain after that first sweep, and the task of growth and change becomes more difficult. Such change can only come about by continual surrender to the Lordship of Christ, much prayer, and willingness to allow the Spirit to have His sway. This is not easy work, as the habits are deeply rooted in our lives, but only in this will we become more useful and pleasing to the Father.
God's work in Christ began in a manger in Bethlehem, but did not end there. Jesus had to grow, minister, die a criminal's death - over thirty years before it was complete. If such a task took over thirty years of the Son of God's life, will it take less in us to be fully achieved? Let us not be happy with a tree-felled landscape and a less-than-optimal yielding of our lives to God. We need to recommit our lives daily to His service and His loving Lordship.
December 11, 1994
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