I have heard and seen the following illustration used twice. Once, in a sermon by Mike Breaux who spoke in our church, and the below in italics, taken from a book entitled Healing Damaged Emotions by David A. Seamands. If you visit the western United States, you will see the beautiful giant sequoia and redwood trees. In most of the parks, the naturalists can show you a cross section of a tree they have cut, and they will point out that the rings of the trees reveal the developmental history, year by year. Here’s a ring that represents a year when there was a terrible drought. Here are a couple of rings from years when there was too much rain. Here’s where the tree was struck by lightning. Here are some normal years of growth. This ring reveals a forest fire that almost destroyed the tree. Here’s another of savage blight and disease. All of this lies embedded in the heart of the tree, representing the autobiography of its growth.
That’s the way it is with you. Just a few thin layers beneath the protective bark, the concealing and protective cover, are the recorded rings of your life.
Lying within you is the “rings of life” which reside in your unconscious mind. They are mental and emotional recordings from experiences that produce hurt, fear, shame, guilt, emotional damage, rejection, failure, abandonment, abuse, physical injury, addictions, mutilation, etc. and can be excruciating memories.
Once born again spiritually, you are forgiven from all your past, present, and future experiences and are made brand new spiritually. 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, “If anyone is in Christ, s/he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” You become a new person spiritually. God invades your life in the spiritual part of your being gaining access to your heart, the very core of your being.
This does not mean that He reprograms your mind. Your past hurts, brokenness, addiction, and wounds are housed in your unconscious mind remain alive and active. Even though forgiven, these experiences have a mind of their own and continue to squawk, scream, moan, worry, lust, fear, and cry.
In Philippians 2:12-13a, Paul the Apostle tells us, “My dear friends, as you have always obeyed, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” “Working out your salvation” is obeying the Lord permitting Him to clean up the debris from the rings of life that still reside within you.
Here is the good news. God has not left you alone. He lives in your heart to heal, comfort, and resolve the hurts from the “rings of life.” The Holy Spirit, called by Jesus “The Comforter”, takes residence in your heart. Step by step he begins the meticulous process of helping you work out and disentangle “anxious thoughts” as He goes. Romans 12:2 states it this way, “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Acts 1:8 says that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” The Greek word translated “power” is the word dunamis, the origin of our word, dynamite. In other words, the power you have from the Holy Spirit can blow up the negative, hurtful emotional, mental, demonic strongholds in your life. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Demolishing arguments and pretensions clean up the “rings of life” that give you problems.
Two quick things.
- Read, memorize, and mediate on scripture daily. Spiritual dynamite resides in these pages.
- Never hesitate to consult a Christian Counselor. Most of these folks can give you wise, liberating and most importantly, truthful guidance.
Time to clean up the debris left by the rings of your life.