Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Juniper Tree

To Joanie of the Little Green Pasture:

 RE: The Branding Irons of Jesus Christ.

In sacred downtime I heard you speak on the subject of suffering. These are the messages that most express the needs of many, for no one is exempt.

If you’ve accrued a lifetime of scars and wounds that reopen every time your prison guard batters your soul again, you have the branding iron seared forever in your being.

Tell me, dear Joanie and flock if you have experienced any of the following:

Prolonged stretches where you’ve battled and won. Overcome the enemy by the power of the word dwelling richly in you. Long spells of victory and the witness of miracles – some of the miracles wrought by your own warfare –

Some on a par with Elijah’s Mount Carmel triumph. You’ve seen a demon leave a woman at your command. You’ve seen the winds and the waves stilled by the Word spoken through your lips.

You have used the keys to the kingdom time after time, so you know this stuff is real. You see now that you can’t make this stuff up. That truth really is stranger than fiction.

This kingdom walk is now experiential, no longer bound by the finite cerebral realm. Miracles happen every day before your very eyes. You see Christ in you up close and personal. You see the fruit of your suffering – the joy set before you, your only hope.

For a brief spell, your every prayer is answered – all your prayers answered because you know the promise and you believe with all your heart and you abide day and night, night and day, in the Vine. You feel almost invincible in those moments.

But you also know that you can’t escape your lot in life. You can’t escape the branding iron. It’s a package deal that goes with the territory. If you suffer with Him you reign with Him. Along with the glory comes the internal whips and nails and the cross as the false self is daily dying. 

Then one day out of the blue you find yourself under the Juniper Tree after a certain major battle is won. Whereas, before, you felt invincible, you now feel the agony of defeat and hopelessness. You sit under the shade of the tree weeping bitter tears of sorrow and grief as you wonder if you’ll ever find the strength to move forward again.

Because you’ve been so wounded in spirit by so many years of persecution and trauma that you are now spent. And you don’t even care if the fat lady appears onstage and the curtain is about to close. You no longer care whether you go to your grave with your music still within.

All those badges of courage you amassed from the fires of battle… And it dawns on you: it’s all been an uphill battle. You have fought the good fight against all odds. And kept going.

And now you sit under the Juniper Tree and examine all the scars, the lacerations, the arrow piercings, the bullet holes. A lifetime of warfare. And you can’t go another step as you are overcome with battle fatigue.

What is the point? You ask. Why can’t I just be done with the troubles of the world? Why won’t the chariot swing on down and carry me away? How can I endure this chaos and persecution another day?

I am immobilized, paralyzed. Can hardly do anything without a struggle. No invincible in my vernacular anymore. Then I hear your sweet message, The Branding Irons of Jesus Christ. And know I’m not alone.

It’s a new day now. The birds sing and the sun shines. I’m still hiding under the shade of the Juniper Tree, still crying, but there’s a hint of hope left that I can endure to the end by His grace and mercy.

You’ve mentioned that the Lord has spoken to you about being real. About coming clean and confessing the reality of struggles – which He has also shown me.

I can no longer wear a mask and pretend that all is well. I want to sing from my heart, It is Well with My Soul. But today I’d be an imposter if I sang it. Today I’m singing,

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

Nobody knows but Jesus

What song is in your heart today?







  1. So poignant and moving, Debra. The next time I find myself sitting under the Juniper tree, wallowing in despair, I will recall that Jesus is still my hope, my rock and my redeemer.

    1. Always, dear Martha, always. I run to the Rock of my salvation too. My hope is built on nothing less that the solid Rock. We are in a good place, even amid storms and trials.

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