Dec 302013 3 Responses

Is It Dead or Dormant?

A few years ago we experienced an extreme summer drought. Every tree suffered, but as the summer gave way to the fall it was obvious that eight trees in my backyard were dead. I needed to remove them, but I waited too late. As fall gave way to winter, there was no way for me to determine which trees were dormant and which trees were dead.

Imagine if this was your first experience with seasons. As summer turned to fall you would be amazed at the beauty and colors, but as winter took hold, you would be in shock. You would assume everything was dead. No matter how much others told you not to worry, it would be impossible to imagine trees, flowers, or grasses coming back to life. In your mind they are dead and dead things do not come back to life.

Of course, everyone who has experienced the seasons know that trees, flowers, and grasses aren’t dead in the winter; they are simply dormant. Allow the weather to warm up and everything will begin to bloom and green again.

There is a difference between dormant and dead. Just like the trees in my backyard during the dead of winter, the two do not look different. Yet time reveals what is dead and what is dormant.

On a regular basis I deal with people who believe something is dead—their marriage, career, faith, life.

The feelings are gone. The signs of life have vanished. All hope is lost.

They think it is dead, but I wonder if it’s dormant. (This is why we should never give up on people.)

I wonder if:

with a little attention and heat, if the marriage can’t bloom back to life.

with a little effort and intention, their career can bounce back.

with prayer and study, their relationship with God can grow again.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a pastor is dealing with people who are convinced something is dead, when I know it is not. Having never been through an experience like what they are going through, they can’t imagine feelings for their spouse coming back or a relationship with God being reborn or life being any different than what it has been. Because they haven’t seen what can happen, they look at something which is dormant and assume it is dead.

I know better. I’ve seen people change, marriages come alive, addictions cease, prodigals return, and a whole host of other  life changes.

Most of the time when something looks dead, it is simply dormant. However, if we treat it as though it is dead, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Treat your marriage/career/life as dead and they will die. Treat them as dormant—give them attention, do the work, get help—and they will likely come back to life.

Take a look at the trees. They look dead. It takes a great deal of faith to believe they will ever bloom again, but of course they will. Look at your life. Whatever looks dead is probably only dormant. Have faith, do the work, and watch it bloom again.

3 Responses to Is It Dead or Dormant?
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