“I want to show you a tree”. We were in Spain, staying in the lovely Cantabrian Mountains where our son lives with his family. This tree, he told us, was a bit of a walk up the mountainside, but it would be worth it. After quite a steep climb, we reached some woodland and there, in front of us, it stood, an oak tree – enormous. ‘It’s reckoned to be at least 1,000 years old’, our son said. We all linked hands, but couldn’t even begin to get a third of the way round the huge trunk.
Massive tree – deep-rooted,
Silently surviving seasons’ fickle cycles
Firm against storm’s blast
Standing strong through years uncountable.
In the well-known passage from Isaiah 61, God uses the image of the oak tree to describe people who once were poor, broken-hearted, captives, imprisoned in darkness, mourning, grieving and in despair – people, not much like the Spanish oak we were admiring, but damaged, weak and vulnerable.
But no more! Such is God’s restoring work. He not only restores us but ‘plants’ us. He places us in ground where we can become well rooted and get all the nourishment we need.
A large tree takes up well over 400 litres of water a day. Deep roots and plenty of water – with these a tree will stand secure for ages.
In Christ we can be like that: ‘rooted and established in love’ (Ephesians 3:17), and drawing ‘water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3).
A planting of the Lord!
Secure through every season’s change
Withstanding savage winds of scorn
Nurtured in the Spirit’s flow.
Such people become ‘oaks of righteousness’ because they are, ‘healed, restored, forgiven’ and nourished to live godly lives. They are firmly established to resist every attack of the enemy. Psalm 92:12-15 uses different trees to make the same point:
‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’
Prayer: Father, today I declare to You that You are my Rock and from You I draw all the resources I need to stand firm, rooted and grounded in Your love, clothed in the righteousness of Christ my Lord. Amen.
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