Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, October 25, 2013

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Tree poeple wanted, Friend.

This past summer I had occasion to drive through part of my home state of Oklahoma. Watching the landscape roll by, I noticed one of the striking peculiarities of the region: trees of uniform height growing in well-ordered rows along the fence line. I remember as a kid asking Dad about that, “Why do those trees grow in straight lines?” He told me the story of how the WPA began the Shelterbelt project in the 1930’s, planting millions of trees as windbreaks to thwart soil erosion and evaporation of moisture. He then began to recount the hardships of being in Oklahoma in the dust bowl era. Looking at those silent sentries standing watch over the pastureland in their care, I was reminded of how often the Scripture uses the image of trees to describe us:

· Psalm 52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.

· Psalm 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

· Isaiah 61:3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

· Psalm 1:3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper

I could go on, but you get the point. I see many Christians who are less like trees and more like other flora. Some resemble cacti – gnarled and spiny to the touch. Others are houseplants that are occasionally pretty, but swoon when the elements are adverse. A few are like mistletoe – a parasite that lives by sucking the juices out of the trees around it. A big bunch are like dandelions whose fluffy spores bounce on the wind from one yard to the next. Thank God, there are some who provide a steadfast line of defense when the broken and helpless come to church looking for shelter from the storm and shade from the heat. These trees of righteousness have roots in the Word. They have learned to trust in the mercy of the Lord. They have put on the garment of praise in the face of adversity, they are growing and flourishing. It is important that some of us take the time and trouble to become stable and strong, to be planted in the house of God. Just like a tree that’s planted by the water, these shall not be moved.

Somebody Said: Storms make trees take deeper roots. Dolly Parton

Scripture Reading: But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, "The LORD is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in Him!" (Psa 92:12-15 NLT)

I am very grateful for the strong and steadfast ones who were there to shade and protect me when I staggered in. Now I just want to be standing tall and strong in line with my fellows when the next guy needs a place of refuge. Planted!



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