Image of birch bark by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

If you feel like you could use a clean slate, you’re not the only one.

Birch trees feel the need to start afresh with a new page occasionally, too.

Except they do it literally, by allowing their outer bark to peel off to reveal a fresh layer underneath.

Why do birches do this?

After all, most trees don’t shed their bark. As trees grow from the inside out, their rigid outer bark, which can’t stretch, splits and cracks instead. This gives tree bark the rough texture and fissure-like patterns that we’re all familiar with.

The drawback of these crevices and grooves is that pests and parasites like to burrow into them, which can affect the health of the tree.

Birches have solved this problem by growing smooth bark. This type of bark doesn’t split, which means it’s more impervious to insects, bacteria and fungi. As the birch grows, it exfoliates some of its outer bark, like a snake shedding its skin.

Along with the shed bark the tree is able to cast off insects, moss and lichen at the same time. Birch trees are continually refreshing themselves.

Smart, isn’t it?

Could you use a fresh start, too? Would you like to get rid of some things that are dragging you down?

Jesus gives us an opportunity to do just that.

By believing in Jesus and His atoning work on the Cross, our sins are forgiven. He wipes the slate clean for us.

We get His pristine, perfect record in return for our marred, soiled one. Our checkered history then becomes a “tabula rasa” in God’s eyes, scraped clean of the stain of sin.

When God forgives us of our sins, He wipes clean our past and gives us a bright future. In the same way that the new birch bark that is revealed when the old sloughs off is fresh and unsullied, God give us a fresh sheet of paper on which to write our life story going forward.

And when we turn over a new leaf spiritually, a lot of negative things that were clinging to the old one get cast aside as well.

Just as the old birch bark with its parasites, pests, and harmful hangers-on gets shed, when God gives us new life in His Son Jesus we have the opportunity to shake off things that were entangling us before. The Holy Spirit give us the strength to divest ourselves of negative character traits and to conform increasingly to the image of Jesus.

A clean slate! Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19)

A “time of refreshing” certainly sounds good, doesn’t it? We could all use a spiritual pick-me-up, especially in these troublous times.

So if you’d like to be forgiven, restored and refreshed, allow God to wipe your slate clean. He does it like none other.

If you carve your initials on the bark of a tree, the markings will last for the life of the tree, which can be many human generations.

But with God, the mistakes, failures and sins of our past aren’t written in stone. They aren’t even carved in tree bark. Through Jesus they can be wiped away in an instant and erased from God’s memory forever.

Now that’s what I call a fresh start!

“ ‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’”

Isaiah 1:18

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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