As of this writing, our family and my brother in law’s family are settled in at the farmhouse. What we thought was a few days at the farm for spring break turned into an indefinite stay. One day I felt the need to escape for a bit. With 12 people under roof—sometimes—you just need to hunt down some quiet. There is a stretch of woods on the farm where the tall pines grow in neat rows. The grass comes up bright green in this area and once it reaches a certain height the cattle are brought in for the buffet.
I sat under a tree to enjoy some quiet time. I prayed over everyone in my groups, my Bible study ladies, my church leaders, my writer friends, my inner circles, neighbors, and of course family. I prayed for God to supernaturally protect them from the virus. I told Him I believed in the promise that all things work for good for those who love Him, for I’ve experienced this first-hand, but I asked Him for some clarity. What to expect maybe? Why? Just anything…
A butterfly fluttered by my boots, the wind blew through the tall grasses, I heard a frog ribbiting nearby, a hawk screech. I noticed creation goes on about its business while the civilized world becomes uncivilized while fights break out in grocery stores, commodities such as toilet paper have risen to the level of luxury, hospitals overflow with the sick, and exhausted medical personnel work without sleep.
Several loud snaps, and large branches fell to the ground. I peered into the trees, thinking it was a large animal. I’d forgotten the pistol and radio, which my husband, Jay continually reminds me to take. I knew he’d lecture me on my return home. Another one snapped and fell. Then another. I couldn’t see anything causing them to fall except the wind.
One oak tree stood alone in the midst of the pines. The sunlight slipped through spotlighting that one lone oak. It was strange, one oak in the middle of all these pines that had been planted before we ever came to the farm. I wondered how it had survived and wasn’t chopped down.
“Oaks of righteousness” came to mind.
“Oaks of righteousness?” I said aloud.
A phrase from the ancient prophetic pages of Isaiah 61:
To comfort all who mourn;
To grant to those who mourn in Zion–
To give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
That they may be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
While the world around us cracks and falls, we must remember Jesus Christ came to plant oaks. Those that abide in the Heavenly Father will stand strong like the oak in the midst of the pines. I realized something sitting out there in the woods, things must be removed from us for us to grow strong. How many things in our lives have snapped off and been discarded with a virus? Our conveniences, our money, our relationships, our health, our pleasures, even our own traditional church service because let’s face it, we have a tendency to look to our church for the answers, instead of going directly to the Source our God. How many of the things we’ve lost were false gods to us?
Pruning is never easy, but when the end result is a closer intimacy with God the Father it’s always worth it. God uses hardships to strengthen faith. While we are becoming accustomed to the changes in our lives I know there will be financial issues, frustrations, some illness, there may even be loss of life, but remember if we keep our focus on the Light in the forest we will flourish and become strong oaks in a world full of pines.