MORNING GLORY 18
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3 NLT
There was a leaning tree in my neighbors' yard. We jokingly called it the “leaning tower of treesa” but it was really nothing to joke about. This tree was not just a little bent — it was ever so slowly falling. Though a fence was blocking the view between us and its roots, it continually uprooted itself more each day. Gravity was at work and not playing around. One big gust of Alabama wind and it would have been a goner for sure. The swing set just within its line of timber seemed to be holding its breath. But it was not our tree so we could not cut it down. We were just watchmen and messengers. Thankfully and nervously, we watched the professionals come in and relieve it from its “misertree” this weekend. (I’ll be here all day with the tree puns, thank you!)
What’s wild about this tree was its outward appearance. If you looked at the branches and leaves, nothing (except its tilted trunk) looked out of place. Nothing looked sick or burned out. But the roots and trunk told a different story. They revealed the truth below the surface of shiny green leaves. The truth is this: the roots were dead on the inside. The tree was likely to come crashing down at any moment because its instability was shaking its core. Any sense of foundation the roots once provided had been jolted out of the ground. The fence beside the tree was splitting at the seams. It was set to destroy anything in its path.
I believe we can all relate to this tree in one way or another. And if not today, then it’s a warning sign for our souls in the future. Our struggles are often hidden beneath the surface. Only when we start to bend are our true roots exposed. When our foundations are not planted in Jesus — our firm foundation and solid rock — we are liable to come crashing down at some point too. And our falling down can impact those around us too. Thank goodness we have a graceful Gardener. Unlike this tree whose sentence was set, God tells us a different story. He uproots our sin, cuts of branches that don’t bear fruit, and plants us anew in life-giving soil by His Spirit. In Jesus’ death on a tree, we have a wellspring of life and an overflowing inheritance.
When the professionals came in to wrangle this tree, the ever-brave tree cutter was attached by a rope to another tree. It was a jaw-dropping sight to see him fly in the air with a chainsaw attached to his belt! The bigger tree held up the tree cutter so he wouldn’t fall. The same is true for us. We need a tether, and God ties our hearts to Him with His word and His people. He cuts off unfruitful branches in us, but not one thing can separate our roots from Him. When we abide in Him, we become like great oaks the Lord has planted for His own glory. And He give us the gift of community, other trees we can lean on when we need an extra branch of support.
Look at where you are planted today. Who are the great oaks the Lord has planted around you?