#177 "Oaks of Righteousness"
November 30, 2010
"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor". (Isaiah 61: 3)
Good Tuesday morning to you dear ones! I hope that today finds you out of your tryptophan coma, with the house cleaned up, and some hours of relaxation planned before the frenzy of Christmas settles in. In spite of having a cold trying to get the best of me, I'm deliberately setting out to have a week of rest while it is still November. Somehow, doesn't it seem that when we turn the page on the calendar and see "DECEMBER" written there, our body kicks in to full-out adrenaline mode?
I have been blessed to see that many of you took last week's challenge, and only praised and thanked the Lord in everything, leaving your heart's desires silent before Him. It wasn't easy, was it? I have heard from those of you in particular, who were going through some rough stuff this past week, but you held to the challenge anyway. Bless you!! Know that I set the challenge aside, and took your needs before the throne of grace, standing in the gap for you. I know how full my heart was when I reflected on you, blessing Christ with your praises. I imagined how tickled pink He was with all of the praise and glory that you were laying at His feet each and every day. My prayer is that He has tangibly shown you that He knows your needs, even when you don't ask. That He sees the deepest desires of your heart, and that you will see His answers manifested in your life.
A few weeks ago, my man said something to me that has haunted me ever since. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with all of the problems facing our family. None of them were particularly my own issues, but they each affected me in a profound way, because when the enemy comes against anyone in my family, I feel the direct hit. I was telling Chuck how overwhelmed I felt, and asking out loud why I felt that it was all on me to be strong for everyone, to make everything okay for everyone, to support, and encourage, and "fix" it all for everyone. I can still see him sitting in his chair, answering quite matter of fact, "Because you're the rock". I don't think that I ever replied. But whoa, Nelly! I have pondered that statement over and over again, ever since.
I am not the rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock on which this pebble stands. That's a whole 'nother sermon, for a whole 'nother day. However... I may be an oak. In the days following that conversation, I was led to one of my favorite chapters in Scripture in Isaiah 61. It was there, at the end of verse 3, that God voiced His desire for us to be called "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor". I always focused on the display of His splendor part of that verse. But this time, I thought about why the Holy Spirit, through the prophet Isaiah, would use the metaphor of an oak. Why not an elm, or a pine tree? An oak. What was it about an oak tree? Let's look.
Oak trees provide the wood for lumber. Their wood is durable and tough. The wood of the oak tree is valued in shipbuilding and construction and for flooring, furniture, railroad ties, barrels, tool handles, and veneer. (www.about-oak-trees.com) Oak trees are a symbol of strength and endurance. They are known for their great strength and hardness. I am not the rock, but God wants me to be an oak. He wants me to be durable, tough and strong. He wants me to be able to endure. He wants me to have great strength and hardness.
"Oaks make lots and lots of roots. No matter what, they stand a chance for survival. Within the first year, the taproot of an oak can reach more than a foot in depth. If a growing root encounters a stone, it may compress slightly, deflect to one side and return to its straight line once the obstacle has been passed. Or, it senses the slenderest crack in the rock; it may splay out thin and grow right through the fissure to the other side. They know where they are. They know how deep they are in the soil, because they test the amount of oxygen and water around them. Where there is more oxygen and sufficient water, there is more growth. Yes, you could describe this as intelligence". (goldcountryhomes.com/home-garden/auburn-garden-club/oak-trees-roots-illustrate) If you damage the roots of an oak, you are doing damage to that on which the oak tree's life depends. I am not the rock, but God wants me to be an oak.
In order to be durable, tough and strong; in order to endure, my roots are the only things that give me a snowball's chance at survival on the soil of planet Earth. Psalm 1 tells me that if I will meditate on God's law day and night, I will be like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season, with leaves that don't wither, and whatever I do will prosper.
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 says, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
The key to being an oak, my friend, is in where you've sunk your roots. I can be an oak and so can you. God desires that for you and for me, according to His Word. When we spend time meditating and studying the Word of God our roots go down to amazing depths. When we encounter obstacles in our way, we can maneuver and return to a straight line once the obstacle has passed. We will know just where we are, because we will never lose our sight when our eyes are fixed on Jesus. Our roots will be deep in God-soil, breathing the heavenly oxygen of His love and drinking the living water of His Word and His promises. Our life-blood is in trusting Him. When we are breathing His oxygen and drinking His water, we will grow. We won't just endure...we will grow. Our lives depend on it.
For the display of His splendor. I am not an oak so that you can admire me for my strength and endurance. I am only strong and able to endure because my roots run deep in the soil, oxygen and living water of my Savior. I need His Word more than the air that I breathe. It's my only chance of survival. I trust Him even when I can't see an inch in front of me. My confidence is in Him alone. I display His glory...His splendor. He is the Rock. I can be an oak. So can you.
Lord, let Your face shine on us like the sun, until our faces are radiant with Your glory. Fashion us into oaks of righteousness, for the display of Your splendor. Amen.
Living the Word along with you,
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