Wednesday, July 15, 2009


“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Ps 1:3).

One of the areas where I lived had lots of oak trees. An oak tree is one of the natural wonders of the world.

Oak trees are very aggressive. They grow fast and vast. Huge, shapely, and stately.

Yet some of the old oak trees I’ve seen seem rather beleaguered. They’ve seen better days. Windstorms and lightning strikes have left them scarred and battered.

Oak trees send out long, heavy branches which scrape the ground. In time, these become overextended and crack under the sheer load.

When the broken boughs and branches are pruned away, the oak tree looks like an amputee.

I’ve seen some historic photographs of oak trees in their prime, before they were ravaged by time and natural disaster. It’s sad to see.

But that’s misleading. All we see is what lies above ground. Yet that’s only half the story. An old oak tree has a vast, underground root system. Even though the old oak tree appears to be very vulnerable and diminished to the observer, it’s actually more secure than when it was young and pristine.

This is like the Christian lifecycle. Although some people have a terrible childhood, youth is generally an upbeat time of life. We’re in the pink of heath. We haven’t suffered the disappointments and the deprivations which will pile up over the years.

Most of us don’t get through life without taking a beating. Outwardly, an older Christian may look and feel like an oak tree that’s been through wind and fire. Disfigured. Missing boughs and branches.

But just under the surface is a taproot that goes deep. He’s stronger than he looks. For his inner source of strength lies out of sight. Out of harm’s way.

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