I’m a bit willow-ish – not willowy, that’s for sure – but willow-ish.
It’s about nine years since God told me I’m like a pile of sticks. Words from God aren’t always easy, but sometimes the most difficult ones have the most value. I was (and still am a bit) like a pile of dry willow sticks: brittle, stubborn, prickly, awkward, broken in places and very much in need of being bent into shape.
But God, because he is gracious, also gave me a picture of how I could be…
This is a basket made out of willow. It can both hold a harvest and carry a feast. It is strong. It is still what it once was, but also completely transformed.
God and I have talked many times about the process of transformation that makes useless sticks into a beautiful basket. And I always end up with these two ‘keys’ to becoming:
Soaking and Surrender
Willow must be soaked, preferably overnight, to make it flexible. Otherwise when the weaver attempts to bend it or twist and wind it between the uprights it will simply snap.
Dry willow is brittle and inflexible: soaked willow is soft and pliable.
I need soaking.
I need to immerse myself in God’s presence and in his word. I read once that we are like pendulums, we need to swing between abiding in God and working; worship and ministry; backwards and forwards. Not spending enough time in God’s presence will make my heart brittle again, but time soaking him in will quickly soften it up.
And as he softens my heart I become more and more ready to be transformed into the shape he wants for me. But even then I need to be willing to let him.
In my willow-ness, most of my task is to surrender. Some of my stubbornness has been soaked out, but most of my determination remains. I have to choose to allow the weaver to create whatever shape he has in mind for me and not to insist on becoming something else. It’s so easy to try to second-guess God, to demand to know exactly what he’s doing, or even to come up with a ‘better’ idea. It’s a challenge to trust him, to rest in the truth that he knows what he’s doing, but it’s necessary.
Soaking and surrender.
It’s great when God gives you a picture of how you could be, especially if he then reveals the keys to becoming. It may take a long time to get there, but we have do some ability to speed up the process.
For me, and I suspect for many of you, a continual process of soaking and surrender is the way forward.