not just for prophets

branch-of-flowering-almond-tree

Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”
And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.”
And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”
Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?”
And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.”
“Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land….
Jeremiah 1:11-14


Sometimes the Lord gives us little visions like He did for Jeremiah in this passage. They are pictures in our mind’s eye, a type of communication between God and us. Maybe they are faint suggestions in our imagination, or they might be vivid pictures that come through as clear as day. Either way, what is the purpose of these images?

In Jeremiah’s case, the visions were to bring understanding about what God was doing and planning. Do not make the mistake of thinking this is strictly an Old-Testament-Prophet kind of thing. Even today, these visual images from the Lord are valuable communication of what is on His heart and mind. They can reveal the true nature of something that we can’t see clearly: our hearts, our thinking patterns, our past, our future, or maybe the obstacles in our path. Sometimes, the images give us insight to pray for ourselves, someone else, or a particular situation.

After reading this passage yesterday and today, I asked the Lord to give me a little vision like Jeremiah had. I’ve had visual messages and specific words flood my mind during prayer, but I never really asked for those. I just felt prompted this weekend, after reading about Jeremiah, to ask for more.

He answered when I asked Him this morning. I saw (in my mind) a small, spherical bush, trimmed perfectly like a manicured hedge. He said that it represented me.

shrub

I wasn’t sure what to think. Then He showed me a massive oak tree and said that He desires for me to be more like the oak than the bush.

He explained to me that I am too concerned about appearances and fearful of new challenges. Like a landscaper with a hedge trimmer in hand, I am constantly cutting off any new growth that looks unruly or beyond my limit. The bottom line?

In my fear, I seek containment rather than surrender.

Oh, I can make the containment look like surrender or obedience, but that’s not what it is. God impressed upon my heart that He would rather see me make room to grow in any direction He leads. That I would reach out for the new challenges He offers. That I would let my roots go down deep and let my branches go far and wide, allowing Him worry about the details, about the appearance of things.

Then, just maybe, I might end up more like this…

Oak-tree-in-field

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:3c

 

photo credits:

www.sxc.hu (almond branch) / buzzle.com (shrub) / the guardian.com (oak)

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