This past summer, Phil Strout, the National Director of the Vineyard Association, shared a word of warning with all the Vineyard churches that he sensed was from the Lord. One of the key highlights of this word came by way of an experience he had after a big wind storm came through in his property in Maine. After the storm had passed, Phil went out to survey and address any damage that had been caused to the trees on his property. While driving around Phil noticed that there was a big pine tree that had fallen down, but right next to it was a white ash tree that had previously wrapped itself around the pine. When Phil inspected the ash tree he noticed that it still appeared to be healthy, so he cut the fallen pine away, which released the ash tree, causing it to stand straight up.
A few months later, Phil went back to assess the tree and was amazed at what he saw. The ash tree, although it was blooming, had bent completely over by the weight of its bloom to where the top of the tree was now touching the ground. What Phil realized was that the tree couldn’t sustain its own growth because it lacked the strength to support itself due to its previous dependence on the strength of the pine. In a sense, the pine tree became a form of scaffolding for the ash tree that allowed it to avoid the strengthening of its own frame.
At the conclusion of this story, Phil then asked a crucial question: HOW DECEIVING IS OUR SCAFFOLDING?
In Jeremiah 2.13, God calls out Israel out for all the ways they’ve stepped away from the life God had invited them to receive and experience. This is what he says, “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” [Jer. 2.13, NLT]
If we reflect on this passage, especially in light of Phil Strout’s question, what we can deduce is that it is possible to live a Christian life that is more propped up by religious trappings than it is filled up by the presence of God. In a certain sense, these cisterns or scaffoldings we think are helping our faith, are actually preventing us from experiencing a deeper satisfaction with the presence of God. And according to Jesus, that is not the life we were meant to experience (Jn. 7.37-39).
So we should ask it again, HOW DECEIVING IS OUR SCAFFOLDING?
This Sunday, we’d love for you to join us as we venture to explore the various ways we can begin to grow and strengthen our awareness and connection to the life-giving presence of God, both here and now.