The Makings of Mighty Oaks

Ranch Oak

A gorgeous oak tree at the family ranch

“They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of His splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.”

~Isaiah 61:3-4

I woke up one day to the whisper, Oaks of righteousness. A thought then came to mind: how long does it take for an oak tree to mature? As any Texan knows, unlike fast-blooming (and less-attractive) cedars, the stunning oak takes years to blossom.

Mr. Smarty Plants of Austin taught me that “Quercus virginiana (live oak) trees mature in about 50 years, more or less.”

50 years – why, that’s over half a lifetime!

Exactly.

Sometimes we humans get impatient with our progress, spiritually & otherwise. We berate ourselves (unsuccessfully) into changing:

I’m STILL struggling with being late. Why can’t I get it together?
I haven’t lost the weight yet this year. Will I ever hate chocolate?
Still no Nobel Peace Prize for my efforts? Wake up America!
No husband? No kids? No money? I’m failing at life.

We should give ourselves more credit: We are each a beautiful growth in progress! Some of us are saplings, while others are approaching maturity, and still others are in-between.

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Seeds of Freedom

Dandelions - Unsplash - Jason Long

It all begins with a seed. [Credit: Jason Long, Unsplash.com]

My generation ~ the up & coming “Millenials” ~ is (wonderfully so) obsessed with freedom. Myself included.

We are the generation that grew up on email, IM, & on-demand music (Napster, I’m looking at you! :). We are those who came-of-age when social media did and who cut our career teeth on Tim Ferriss’ book, The Four-Hour Workweek, a rabid NY Times Bestseller (with a title like that, of course it was!).

We millenials love our freedom, don’t we? We love the idea of remote work, forever freelancing our ways away from the dreaded 9-to-5 (or cubicle).

Is it any surprise then that we carry this torch of liberty into our spiritual lives? I sure have. If there is something I’ve wanted my whole life, it is FREEDOM. Freedom from the rigidity of school. Freedom to make my own choices. Freedom to set my own schedule. Freedom to do what I want, when I want. Isn’t that the ‘American Dream’?

But what my generation is starting to realize is that freedom comes at a cost. Our flag wouldn’t be flying if not for the thousands of sacrifices and lives laid down to make America “a new nation, conceived in liberty”. Money doesn’t in fact grow on trees. Pounds aren’t lost without sweat & grit. Freedom is costly.

Seeds of Freedom

Have you ever wondered why true freedom seems elusive — in our grasp one day & like the wind in the next?

I’ve come to understand that we are given SEEDS of freedom, full of potential. The Lord littered His Holy word with Scriptures chock-full of promises to us, brimming with possibilities.

But we can leave those seeds there, those nuggets of wisdom He provides. We can choose to reject His promises for another “pathway” to freedom {as if one exists!}.

After all, God’s way is SURELY not the easiest. Jesus told us that Himself, calling His ‘the narrow road’. My generation – me included – has mistaken the word ‘narrow’ for limiting, confining, oppressive… all those words we’ve come to despise!

But God teaches us a principle here: The narrow road leads to life, to true freedom. We cannot endlessly explore every possibility, every path, every sinful entanglement, and expect to not be trapped in its clutches. The wide road has far too many pathways — and many of them lead to danger, pain, or emptiness (self-actualization, I’m looking at YOU!).

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Credit: Morgan Sessions, www.unsplash.com

Men Loved the Darkness

Credit: Chris Liu-Beers, www.unsplash.com

Credit: Chris Liu-Beers, unsplash.com

Forces of light & darkness are converging on the world & clashing like never before. Can’t we all just get along? 😉 Why the tension?

Then I read this passage today (via Lance Wallnau, who is kind of the man!):

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” ~John 3:19

Wow, this Scripture explains so much… but what is ‘the Light’ the world dislikes so much? Jesus Himself gave us the answer:

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~John 8:12

The #1 reason our world despises Jesus – using His name to curse rather than to bless others (God’s intended use) – is because people don’t want to be exposed by His light. By definition, dark and light can’t coexist. One drives out the other. And those pursuing darkness don’t want it to dissipate; they want to continue down their highway to hell, not realizing that’s where they’re headed.

This helps us understand why some people vehemently oppose us, His followers. We bring His light into the world, and some people don’t want that kind of illumination. Our hope for them is this:

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

~Isaiah 9

It can and has happened before. People can ‘see the light’ and embrace it. But how can they SEE Him who isn’t walking this earth anymore?

We must LIVE IT. We just must be willing to guide them to the truth, not simply with our words but also our LIVES. This is how we bring God’s light into the world and expose the deeds of darkness.

Credit: Morgan Sessions, www.unsplash.com

Credit: Morgan Sessions, unsplash.com