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Removal and Replanting

[Ezekiel 36: 16-28]

During the early morning in our booming Asian city last summer, we experienced rare typhoon-level winds and rain. Our area had seen flash floods like that before, but never with such powerful gusts of wind. Trees along the road and sidewalks were uprooted and turned completely on their side, dirt still clinging to their tendrils, blocking the usual thoroughfare of cars and passengers. Road crews immediately got to work clearing brush and debris.

Several days later as I walked through our neighborhood park, I observed what had been cleared and what was still being broken apart for removal and replanting. A potted tree whose pot had fallen on its side in shards had been replaced and set aright; trees that once blocked the path were sawed into several large chunks, awaiting someone to carry them away for burning or recycling.

This past event now seems like a foreshadowing of what we are experiencing due to COVID-19. In a season of upheaval and extended waiting, what is Abba uprooting from our environments? What specifically is He removing and replanting in the hearts and lives of His people? How can we participate in this work of renewal?

The people of Israel were uprooted from their own land due to blatantly dishonoring God’s name among the nations. Their obvious denial of the greatness of God who had rescued them out of a godless nation (Egypt) and continuous reliance upon idols resulted in their captivity by Assyria, then Babylon. It was the upheaval of the Babylonian empire 70 years later that ushered in a new era under Cyrus the Persian, under whose leadership the nation of Israel (now consisting of the tribes of Levi, Benjamin and Judah) were allowed to return to their land and rebuild. Their rebellion and pride had been extreme, as was their punishment. Now God promised to restore them.

If the God of Israel returned the rebellious nation of Judah to their home, and in the face of opposition helped them rebuild the city wall and Temple in Jerusalem, restoring the land to its former glory; if He did the work of total restoration for disobedient people, how much more does He desire to restore His obedient people, who are called to be His devoted servants among the nations of the world? If we, who desire to be witnesses of His fame among the nations, repent and return wholeheartedly to the sole Satisfier of our hearts, how much more will He pour out His presence on us in the most unlikely places of our cities and nation?

What has Daddy God brought you out of in the past? Have you seen His deliverance before? If you sense chaos, upheaval or uprooting in your environment, why not ask the Mighty Restorer of All Things to show you what He is planting? What new thing is He doing in you, through you? His restoration is long-lasting and complete. Take heart, beloved, the doors He opens, no man can shut.

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt…Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 36:33, 36

-Julie Branstetter

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