I recently visited Duncombe Park, N.Yorkshire. In the woods there was a massive tree, which had come down in the recent storms. Beside it was a plaque that read ‘Tallest Ash Tree in England. Guinness Book of Records 1965-1974.’ For a season, this tree was famous for being the tallest tree, of a particular type, in the whole of England and would have been visible from miles around, yet here it was laying flat on the ground. As soon as I saw it, I felt the Spirit of the Lord speak about the recent changes and reconfigurations of leadership in some of the very large movements in the worldwide church. Some high-profile leaders have died, fallen or decided to step down during the pandemic and some large, famous churches have left the movements that birthed them. It’s very easy for us to jump to conclusions about what may have gone wrong and to fall into judgement, as though, if those leaders had just had our wise counsel, it could all have been so different!
As I looked at that majestic tree, that had stood for many years and came down in one day, my eyes were drawn upwards to the big gap that it had left in the canopy above. Sunlight was now able to penetrate to the ground beneath, resulting in a carpet of green, as all the dormant seeds that had been hidden in the soil, responded to the light and rain that could now reach the earth. New growth was already filling the gap.
Matthew 16:18 reminds us that it is Jesus who builds His church, and that no human failure or enemy strategy can stop its expansion, not even the gates of hell can withstand it! Matthew 11:12 reminds us that God’s kingdom has been constantly advancing, since the days of John the Baptist and forceful people lay hold of it.
The reality is that down the centuries, the church has constantly changed and shifted, as God constantly moulds and refines it, refreshing the wineskin according to His purpose for that season, readying His bride for the return of the Bridegroom. Throughout the pandemic the prophets have quoted Isaiah 43:19, ‘Behold I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’, so we shouldn’t be surprised when God starts to do a new thing…and we don’t need to worry about change, we just need to lean into God and constantly examine if there are ‘new things’ He wants to do in us, to make us ready for the next season.
I have recently felt the Lord emphasise this verse from Hosea 10:12
‘Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.’
Spend some time asking God to show you the areas of your life that need ploughing up, like that unploughed ground. Perhaps areas of neglect, or disappointment, where hardness has set in. Offer them to Him and ask Him to begin to dig them up, so your life becomes more fruitful and ready for all He wants to do in the next season.
Pray for the leaders of TVC Church, or the church you belong to, as they seek to follow all that the Holy Spirit wants to do in this season.
Pray for the church worldwide, especially leaders and movements that you know of who are struggling through structural change and failures in leadership. Pray for God to help them navigate the storms and for forgiveness, fresh life and Godly leadership to spring up, where there has been failure.
Continue to pray regularly for Ukraine, especially for the church to bring hope, healing and provision to the suffering. Please pray for Viktor, who is distributing urgent finances and aid to pastors and families, and for Zhenya, who is finding homes for orphans and refugees.
04 May 2022