Lately in church and in our care group, we have been learning about a practical strategy for sanctification called the Three Trees Diagram. This model is based on Luke 6:43-45, where Jesus teaches that behavior grows out of our hearts just like fruit grows out of a tree. If a tree is producing rotten fruit, you have to do more than just get rid of the bad fruit - you have to find out what is wrong with the tree. In the same way, if there is sinful behavior in my life (words, thoughts, deeds) I need to find out what is wrong with my heart (the sum of my inner self). The fruit of my behavior grows out of the roots of my heart. Any attempt to address my thoughts and actions needs to begin by finding the problem in my heart.
All too often, I would rather look in other places for the problem. I would rather blame other people - "If that person didn't flaunt her pregnancy, I wouldn't feel so jealous!" Or I would rather blame my circumstances - "Anyone going through infertility has a right to the occasional pity-party!" Infertility is very trying. People who don't seem to understand or care what I am going through are tempting. But my response to those trials and temptations comes from my heart. Those outward influences can't force me into any specific thoughts or actions. In the realm of infertility, people have a variety of ways of reacting and dealing with their inability to conceive (anger, depression, determination, etc.). In my own life, I respond to the same circumstance - like a negative pregnancy test - in different ways (devastation, numbness, godly grief). What makes the difference? The heart.
It's not an easy thing to admit that my worst problem is my own heart. But if I try to locate the problem anywhere else, then I will miss the solution found in Christ. Seeing my heart as the root of all my good and bad behavior causes me to see that I am a worse sinner than I have yet dared to admit. But once I see that, I can see how great a Savior I have, how God has provided a much better solution than I dared to dream. And that brings hope. Even if I remain infertile for the rest of my life, my heart can change from a barren tree to a bountifully fruitful tree.
I plan to take a few posts to walk through an example of the Three Trees diagram in my own life. You can listen here (3/18 & 3/25) to the messages that explain the diagram.