Even though the “Curse of the Empty Freezer” continues, my camera is full of wonderful pictures from many different places. While I do enjoy looking back at images of sunsets over the mountains, it is not as good as actually being there. While elk hunting this year in Idaho and walking next to a pond, I encountered this tree (see picture). Obviously the pond is home to a beaver and probably more than one. What captured my imagination about this tree was the sheer size of the thing. The tree had to be about 30″ in diameter at the base and stood a good 80′ in height. That must have been one determined beaver because their teeth aren’t THAT big. It made me wonder how long that little rascal had been gnawing away. Most trees felled by beavers are gnawed in a circular pattern and end up as posts that look like buried #2 pencils. This tree, doesn’t have that tell tale circular pattern.
All of this, believe or not, got me to thinking about a passage in Colossians and “snapshots”. Paul writes in Colossians 1:9-12, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”
One of the things I like about Paul’s writing style, is that it reads like math equations. We can break this passage down like this:
- We are praying for you (WHY)
- that you may be filled with knowledge of God’s will and understanding (WHY)
- that you may walk in a worthy manner
- that you may please Him
- that you may bear fruit
- AND…that you may increase in the knowledge of God
- ALSO…strengthened with power
If we add all of these up, like a math equation, we get the answer Paul is praying for:
- steadfastness and patience
- joyful thanksgiving
Understanding how Paul writes, helps me understand what he is saying. I can almost insert the “plus” signs and the “equal” signs to arrive at Paul’s main point. Why this passage, and the gnawed tree, make me think of “snapshots” is the sum of Paul’s equation and prayer…steadfastness and patience. Here is what I mean; Paul is praying for the Lord to intervene into a body of believers and to fill them with knowledge and understanding, in order that they behave like Christians should, which will develop in them spiritual steadfastness and patience. In other words, we must be careful about examining our lives, as a “snapshot”, and then applying a value like “good” or “bad” to it. Some days, our “snapshot” will be good. Other days, our “snapshot” will be bad. If we take a whole series of “snapshots” and hold them together like a deck of cards and shuffle them against our thumb…we will get a better picture of our lives.
Our minds are geared to elevate one “snapshot” over the other as a matter of our disposition. Some of us are natural optimists while others are natural pessimists. Understanding who we are helps us battle the tendency to take “snapshots”. Rather than focusing on ourselves, our good and bad days, we should strive to do what Paul is praying for us to do. For example, “to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” means that our focus is on Christ, not ourselves. All of us desire to know what God’s will is, however, we like to frame that question into a different context. We want to know what God’s plan is for our future. This is not the same thing Paul is praying. Paul is praying for our eyes to see the world the way God see’s the world. To notice the strife and heartache, the pain and suffering, and apply the all healing remedy of Jesus Christ.
Seeing the world this way, strengthened in His power, enables us to take action in a way that pleases Him, bears much fruit, and is a walk worthy of the Lord. Once we start walking this way, living this way, our knowledge of God increases and we see more places to apply the remedy…Jesus Christ. This leads us all to steadfastness and patience because the amount of healing our world needs in Jesus’ name…is huge. We can be overcome by the SIZE of the task. If we elevate a snapshot of “I’m good”…then we figure we have already done enough. If we elevate a snapshot of “I’m bad”…then we never start. Understanding that we are both “good” and “bad” depending on our discipline to the RPMS should help us develop steadfastness and patience. This was Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is also his prayer for us.
Looking at that tree, I was impressed with the steadfastness and patience the beaver needed to keep chewing, keep gnawing, keep digging…we could all use a lesson from the beaver, and some prayers from the Apostle Paul.