River birch trees have some outstanding features. Their unique whiteish bark curls up into paper thin pieces and their fall leaves are stunningly brilliant. Their wood is extremely strong, yet flexible, and it contains special oils that are used in cosmetics and other products.
But contrasted with their beauty and strength, I’ve noticed a negative feature – the ones I see in Georgia seem to almost always shed small limbs. It seems there’s always an array of small dead limbs underneath the birch trees where I live, making a mess of things.
After some research I found that, largely due to the stress of a lack of moisture, these trees will often automatically shed limbs and drop leaves to conserve moisture. Simply put, they respond to the their changing environment – and shed what might cause them to die otherwise.
From a spiritual perspective, I wonder if we shouldn’t be more like river birch trees. As we grow and move into the greatness and wonder of who we are truly meant to be, I wonder if we shouldn’t be shedding some of our old selves, our desire to control, poor attitudes, hateful or jealous thoughts, negative response patterns and addictive behaviors?
Do you shed?
Are you changing as a person?
If you are a Christian, as you learn more about God and Christ you should be naturally shedding your old ways, habits and patterns. If we aren’t shedding our old selves and being transformed into the likeness of Christ, then we really aren’t growing. If we aren’t growing and changing, we are likely to become negative, mean-spirited, cynical and bitter over time.
If you want to shed some of the “old” you, I’d simply suggest going to God in prayer and telling him your heart’s desire. Something like, ”God I want to shed some of my old ways. I want to be new. I now see I can’t do this on my own. I need you.”
I know God will honor that prayer of surrender and dependency on Him.
Ephesians 4:22 (NIV, emphasis added): You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
Romans 12:1-2. (ESV, emphasis added): Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Bill Stark is a Greenville, Mississippi native who graduated from Ole Miss in 1983 with a BA degree in Journalism. Bill married his college sweetheart, Starwyn Strickland, of Brazil, Mississippi, and they have three children, including twins Mary Catherine and Ellen and son Will. He currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Email Bill Stark at email@example.com