Looking out my study window I can see a dormant maple tree. It is stripped of all the beautiful leaves that filled its branches last summer. The leaves hid any irregularities or defects in the tree and now their absence exposes them. It is stripped of all its outer beauty and all we see is something that looks very vulnerable. It looks dead with its ashen coloured bark and trembling branches. It no longer seems beautiful yet nothing has changed with it, as the beauty of its outward cover had only hidden the true tree.
The seemingly dead tree is more alive in this state than during any other season. Winter causes the tree to no longer expend useless energy to keep leaves alive. It draws the energy into itself to preserve and strengthen the true tree. The beautiful foliage takes from the life force needed for the roots and the trunk of the tree leaving it in a weakened, defenceless state. Winter is necessary otherwise the tree would deteriorate with the constant effort to maintain an image that the world likes to see.
Vanity and pride has a way of drawing life from Christ followers. We expend energy to surround ourselves with clothing, homes, cars, and jobs so as to create an image we think is beautiful. Yet we expend little or no effort to strengthen and preserve our souls. We create an image that suggests we are seeking, loving and serving God, yet our truth is very different. We know about Jesus but seemingly do not know about the changing power He offers that will prevent us from being vulnerable to the evil one.
Unlike the trees that do not get to choose how they function, we have a choice. We can play the game or we can choose to follow Jesus. If we truly seek Him, He will cause our virtues to fall away just like the leaves of the tree. He can draw us unto Him so as to strengthen us. He does not destroy us but works with the creation He made. It may seem ugly at first as we begin to realize who we are we may feel vulnerable. But, as we seek Him we will see what He desires of us and will realize we are truly strong with Him. He can make us His new creation.