The Shaking Of The Tree
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
The other day I was cleaning–deep cleaning. I, for one, am not a big fan, but, alas, it must be done. In my kitchen is a ficus tree, which drops leaves pretty readily when moved. On this day I was cleaning my blinds, and in order to reach one of the blinds, I had to move the big tree. As I put one hand on the rim of the pot and the other hand on the trunk of the tree and moved the tree away from the blinds, several leaves fell to the ground.
I have done this act a number of times with my blinds and my tree, but on this particular day I looked closely at the leaves that fell to the ground, and the Lord showed me something I found fascinating.
There were three types of leaves that cascaded to the ground. The first leaf that dropped was completely yellow. The second leaf was divided with a portion that was yellow and a portion that was still green. The final leaf that fell was completely green. What emerged out of that routine visual was a revelation of what God is doing in the Church today. It's no new revelation, but one God revealed in His Word.
Hebrews 12:26-29 says, “When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: ‘Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’ This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.” (NLT)
As people who are in Christ, we have to abide in Him. Look at what Jesus tells us in John 15:5-8: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (NLT)
God is shaking the Church, and we are just like those leaves on my ficus tree. Some of us are yellow–we are spiritually dead, and we would have fallen anyway. There was not much shaking required, because we were not attached to the vine. Some of us are both yellow and green–we desire to be attached to the vine, but we do not do what is required to abide in Christ. When a little shaking occurs, we simply can’t hang on and we fall.
And then there was the green leaves–the ones that really surprised me. Why did the green leaves fall? They were green, not dead, not dying … at least, they didn’t appear to be. And this is what the Lord spoke in my spirit. The green leaves are those who appear to have fruit but are truly not attached to the vine and when shaken, they fall.
Now, here is where it can get a bit confusing at times. Are we speaking about Christians or non-Christians? Well … yes. There are both kinds of leaves who appear to be attached to that tree.
There are definitely those people sitting in our church buildings who have not truly received the gift that Christ has offered us. In fact, there is an old saying that says just because you sit in church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage makes you a car. And yet, they go to church and will tell you they are Christians. But are they? Are they really attached to the vine? And what if the tree shakes?
And so, how do you know if you’re a Christian? How do you really know? Some will tell you it’s because you say a certain kind of prayer. But aren’t there people who have said that very prayer, often called the salvation prayer, and didn’t mean it? Of course. It’s a heart issue. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (NIV)
Yes, it’s a heart issue. But here is the key. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is a change. There will be a change in you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 speaks to this very change. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT)
Sin becomes a little less comfortable. The water-cooler gossip isn’t quite as enjoyable anymore. The nightly wine seems harder to justify. The complacency in our lives to simply go to church on Sunday and forget about God the rest of the week is much harder to do. There is a change. Jesus gets a hold of us and makes us more like Him. Ah, but along with that change, there is a peace that passes all understanding.
And yet, those who are unwilling to surrender to His will, even those of us in Christ who may be going to heaven at the end of our lives, will fall off the tree when some shaking occurs. Our lives simply don’t produce fruit. We may be going to heaven, but our lives here on earth are filled with despair, addictions, fear, insecurity, offense, and a lack of trust in the One who truly has it all in His hands. Those people are the leaves that will fall.
Remember Jesus' words to us? “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (NKJV)
You see, until we truly surrender and abide in Him, until we recognize that apart from Him we can do nothing, we will fall from the tree. How do we abide? Spend time with Him. He desires you. Read His Word; it’s a love letter from Him. Spend time talking to Him about everything. Spend time in fellowship with other believers. And worship Him. He wants an intimate relationship with you. He wants green leaves that when shaken won’t fall.
And we saw in Hebrews that God gave us a promise. “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’ This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.” Let’s be unshakable!