WILLOWFeed on His faithfulness. Psalm 37:3

I have had this particular scripture on my mind all week. It says dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. The words dwell in the land mean to make your abode there, not in a physical place but in the place of His presence. Meaning whatever happens, don’t walk away from God, and don’t come out of His presence. Stay and remain in Him. And the rest of the scripture declares feed on His faithfulness. I have been doing that a lot lately, reminding myself of the many times God has been faithful to me. Encouraging myself in the Lord, the Bible calls it.

Sometimes it appears as if God has not been faithful, even then He remains faithful. As I was thinking of this God reminded me of Aaron’s rod. Remember Aaron’s rod that was placed in the Ark of the Covenant as a testimony, forever surrounded by the presence of God. The rod, as stated in the book of Hebrews, is forever in a place that few items have attained to; the Tabernacle which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. What a place of honor! But…it wasn’t always that way for Aaron’s rod; let me share the story with you.
In the beginning of the existence of Aaron’s rod – it wasn’t a rod at all, but an almond tree planted by its master. It was just a twig, a sapling. The master of the field planted it and carefully tended to it each week. The little almond tree struggled to grow and produce fruit but these things don’t happen quickly, it takes time to produce fruit, a strong root structure must be developed first. This takes lots of moisture and much time.

It seemed to the little tree that it would take forever, nevertheless, the tree decided that it was going to be the best and biggest almond tree around and it would produce the best crop of almonds…because you see; he just wanted to please his master. Finally, he burst through the ground and began to grow strong and tall. When the sunlight appeared that year it began to activate the buds and stems and leaves. He was sure that this year would be his year to produce fruit.

The master came by and checked on the now strong tree, he paid special attention to his roots and bent it to make sure it was strong. And it was. Then without warning, the master took his ax and chopped the little tree at the very root. The almond tree was astonished and could not figure out what he had done wrong. All he wanted was to be the best almond tree, and to please his master.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the master then broke off each branch and stripped off all the leaves, the little almond tree was left bare, reduced to nothing but a stick. Then it got even worse, the master began to peel away the bark from the almond tree. The bark, you see, protects the heart of the tree; it is its covering, its protection. It helps the tree keep its moisture and remain healthy.

Then the master lay what was left of the tree in the hot sun. Each day, the almond tree hoped his master would graft him back in, but he never did. One day the master declared that the almond tree was now ready; he picked it up and began walking with it, leaning on it for strength. Now the almond tree understood – he was no longer an almond tree – now he was a staff, a rod. So he decided that he could accept this change of plans and he would be the best rod ever for his master. There he was, stripped down to nothing, dried out beyond repair and laid in the hot sun, only to become something that someone else could lean on…but that was okay with him. Yes, his dream of being a great and awesome almond tree had to die but he still simply wanted to please his master. He lived to please his master.

For years, he gave his master strength and walked with him through many roads. He had surrendered to his masters need and had grown to enjoy his existence. Then one day, in a meeting with other masters, he was thrown into a pile with all the other rods and left without the company of his master. A man came along and picked up all the rods and placed them in a dark room.

And the Lord spoke unto Moses saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and take of everyone of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers’ twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod. And thou shall write Aaron’s name upon the rod of the Levi for one rod shall be the head of their fathers. And thou shall lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.

Once again, the once almond tree, now rod, finds himself in a dark place, wondering what in the world he did to deserve this. He lay there in the dark for hours among the other rods that were discarded, wondering what was going on and if he would ever get out of this dark place and see his master again. Suddenly he felt something happening, something growing from him. He said ‘it is impossible, I haven’t had branches or blossoms for many years, I have had no moisture to grow, nor sun to produce fruit, it is impossible.’ But as morning broke, everyone could see that the almond rod of Aaron had blossomed and bloomed and produced fruit – in an impossible situation and in just a few short hours. It was, just as God said it would be.

Have you ever felt like the almond tree? Have you had a dream, a goal and you wanted to be the best you could be – simply to please your Master? Did you give it all you had and then some, but still fell short. Were you cut down at the root and laid away dry and confused? Did you wonder what you could have done so wrong to end up rubble when you were supposed to be a fruit-yielding tree?

Perhaps even like the almond tree, you surrendered your dream and yielded to another service to the Master. Even after your surrender, you find yourself, yet again, in a dark and lonely place. But you see, the almond tree was not alone in this place – remember, God said ‘where I will meet you.’ You see, my friend, there is a place where God will meet you.

It’s in His presence. Everything changes in His presence. Everything is exposed to resurrection in His presence, for He is resurrection and life. You may be in a place right now where you see nothing good happening. It may look like all your dreams have died and are now put away in a dark, cold place – but – if you are in the presence of God, the darkness will have to go and light will spring forth. You see, the little almond tree had nothing, it was abandoned and alone yet it found its true self one place – in the presence of God. Just one night in the presence of God can change everything. Everything that abides in God’s presence produces life and lives.

Remember the manna; if it wasn’t eaten it would rot the next day. Yet God had Aaron place manna in the Ark of the Covenant, where God’s presence was, and it remained fresh and alive. God said it was to be kept. To be kept meant that the presence of God stands guard to ensure preservation. Anything that remains in the presence of God is kept – preserved – kept alive and fresh.

This is a nugget we often miss when dark times come. The last place we often think of is the presence of God – but that is where life is. That is where nourishment and preservation is. That is your safe place and it is your place of deliverance.

I recall when I rented a house years ago that was $50 a month, no joke. And it was a $50 a month home. Obviously, I was going through a really hard time. The house roof leaked, the tub was falling through, and the floors were so un-level that I had blocks under my furniture. One day, as I was putting plastic on my windows to keep the heat in and the cold out, the Lord spoke to me and said ‘don’t do anything else to this house, you are moving.’

Just a few short weeks later, the Lord provided me with money to purchase a new home and furnish it. Wow!!!! What a miracle! A few days later a pastor friend came to me with a notebook in hand and ask me this question; what did you do to get God to do this for you? Tell me the steps you took. This question offended me, you see, I had a season of my life where I spent literally hours in the presence of God, just worshipping Him. I didn’t follow any steps, I simply spent time in the presence of God and He blessed me beyond my imagination. This is one of the reasons I call Him faithful, only one, there are many more.

A couple years after I moved in my house, I was outside one day and I asked the Lord this question; ‘Lord, why did you bless me so, I have a friend who prays more and knows more scripture than I ever will. Why me?’ The Lord replied immediately – ‘because you worship me.’ You see I had spent hours in the presence of the Lord, singing to Him, worshipping Him. I can tell you for a certainty, if you spend time with God and worship Him, He will move heaven and earth to bless you – He can’t help Himself – He loves a worshipper.

Life is in His presence. Resurrection is in His presence. Your peace is in His presence. You will find your answer there and He won’t be able to help Himself, He will simply have to bless you beyond measure. But that kind of blessing only comes when you truly spend time in His presence worshipping Him.

Prayer for Today:

Father, help us to remember it is in You we live, move and have our being. You, alone are the giver of life and all things good. For this, we thank You.