Sunday, January 17, 2016

Devotion 1.18.16

Flower Mound, Texas is close to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and is a small town that has, like many small towns in America close to large urban areas, been swallowed up by the sprawling metroplex.  It is now a suburb of the larger metroplex, and what were once farms and ranchland are now subdivisions of moderate to large homes, businesses, and schools and all that goes with them.  Yet in the park close to my in-law's home is this old majestic oak which I pass when I run on the large sidewalks in the area.  This tree was spared by developers for a reason and became a focal point of the park where it now resides.

Oaks are impressive trees.  Not as striking as a redwood or the sequoia, the tree still has the ability to live for a long life span.  Based on the base of the tree in comparison to other oaks whose age I know, I'd guess the tree is 300-400 years old (New Braunfels, Texas has one that is approximately 1400 years old, and Albert, Texas has one that is estimated to be 800 years old).  The cell picture of the "Old Oak" on Old Oak Lane doesn't do justice to the beauty of the tree, but it does give you a view of its size in comparison to the oak planted in the background when the park was established about 15 years ago.

This tree has seen the development of the area from Native American hunter/gatherer through independence and expansion of the United States and Texas, through Civil War, Great Depressions, man on the moon, and the rapid expansion of the Dallas metroplex.  When you inspect the tree, you see it has served as a fence (barbed wire imbedded in its bark) meaning it was most likely a marker on the property.  It also has a hinge still in the bark whose meaning has been lost in time.  I believe it was also a playground for some children on the ranch (presumably) because it had, at one time, old wooden steps on the large branch you see coming out.  The true native to these lands has been a part of many stories and helped shape the history of the area as other oaks were used for homes, fuel, shade, protection, and even entertainment.  What stories might it tell?

Isaiah uses the oak in several instances as a metaphor to faith.  In Isaiah 1, he refers to oaks used in pagan sacrifices by saying, "You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen.  You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water." (1:29 - 30)  Yet in 61:3, he infers that the Messiah will make the people "oaks of righteousness." "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

Which are we?  Oaks with faded leaves or oaks of righteousness.  The truth is we are oaks of righteousness in Christ.  If our own personal gardens were only tended by ourselves, we would be oaks with faded leaves and brittle branches, yet with Christ, we are mighty oaks.  We lift a prayer of thanks to Christ for his wondrous works.

Hope Men's Ministry

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