Encouragement for Today
“The ‘Live Oak’ Tale”
Amanda Waldroop, Staff Writer
Isaiah 61:3c, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (NIV)
The Live Oak tree stands tall and overpowering. It is covered with Spanish moss, dangling from each branch, creeping its way down over my head. It looks tranquil and content in its setting, as the sun beams down through the mossy branches and casts shadows of light along the thick trunk and green grass carpeting its base. Through hurricanes and storms, the Live Oaks are immovable. Rarely do they fall or break. They remain sturdy, surefooted, and green throughout winter.
On a recent family vacation to the beautiful port city of
Early Saturday morning we set out to visit this historic site, the former home of one of the South’s leading influences, Henry Middleton. Being a former history major, you can imagine I was more than eager to arrive at this luxurious plantation home and see everything I possibly could. After purchasing our tickets at the small hut in front of the main gardens, we were asked to wait for our carriage to arrive, which would sweep us across the grounds with a narrated account of life in the Old South.
As I patiently strolled through the garden entrance, occupying the passing moments before tour time arrived, I suddenly found myself in front of a beautiful Live Oak tree that was more incredible than any I had yet seen. I stopped, paused, and lost myself in a few brief moments of awe before our horse-drawn carriage approached. As I quickly finished my observation of the tree, and climbed up to my seat, I began to probe our guide to tell us more about it.
He was happy to oblige and as he filled us in on the tree’s history, it brought to mind the verse from Isaiah 61:3c which talks about the downtrodden and brokenhearted becoming oaks of righteousness. The Middleton Oak had battled and survived (what they think to be) 900 years of southern coastal storms, hurricanes, and even General Sherman’s burning of the South during the Civil War, of which Middleton Plantation was one of his first targets. Yet, it remained unmovable, unshakable, unbreakable, and upright as a monument of faithful commemoration to a historical tale for centuries to come.
I believe God wants each one of us to become more like the Live Oak – unmovable, unshakable, unbreakable, and upright as we weather the storms and hurricanes of life. He wants to develop our faithfulness over the long haul so that we can become individuals of historical significance in the halls of faith and righteousness. But most importantly, when we stand firm during these times, He proclaims us to be displays of His amazing splendor and glory – and His righteousness shines through us.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Father, who is the source of all righteousness - would You continually make us unmovable, unshakable, unbreakable, and upright in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions? We desire our lives to be a display of Your righteousness living inside of us through Your Spirit.
With all of the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina along the US Gulf coast, it’s often difficult to imagine how one could survive the physical effects of such a storm and losing everything they have. Yet what is almost harder to imagine is how one would survive the emotional turmoil surrounding such an event. Take a moment to think about what this kind of experience would be like for you, and ask yourself this question:
What is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me in my life right now? If this thing were to happen, could I come out praising the Lord for the very basics of this life He has given me – even if there seemed to be nothing left?
Perhaps your worst fears have come to life at some point. If so, are you standing on top, praising the Lord for the very life in your body and His wonderful gifts of grace and salvation?
What storms have you weathered lately?
Was it a cold wind of fear that blew over?
Was it a hurricane that left a path of destruction behind it?
If you can come out, standing on top of the remains, praising God for his mercy on us, you are one step closer to becoming like the Middleton Oak. Your spiritual footing will get sturdier and your outside coloring won’t change just because the weather’s a little harsh. You, my friend, will begin a legacy of faith.
James 1:4, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trail, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (NIV)
Psalm 29:9-11, “The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (NIV)
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst
Coming Out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland
Secrets of the Vine, by Bruce Wilkinson