I was walking this morning in the wood nearby here, and became aware of many, many small oak trees. They varied in height but some were barely waste high. Then I looked up to see the full height of the oak trees that had shed their acorns to enable this vast little army of oaks to take root, and to grow, and the whole mystery of ‘growth’ took hold of me.
Every plant, tree and flower that God has created, and indeed everything in the animal kingdom too, starts off as a tiny seed, or a small kernel or nut, and grows and grows and grows until it can be seen in all its magnificence. Now to state the obvious, that just doesn’t happen with man made things. Man made things start life in their completed form and then tend to decay, wear out, break down, and need renovation.
In built growth and renewal of cells is the prerogative of the things that our creator God makes, and that renewal and growth happens year by year because of the life that the Lord has put in all things natural, provided that is, that it is not destroyed by man’s interventions.
I found pondering over these things a great encouragement, because as can happen to all of us, events can unfold that make us feel that we have failed in some way to live and be the ‘New Person in Christ’ about which we have been sharing. There are those times when far from feeling like ‘an oak of righteousness’, Isaiah 61:3, we can feel like one of those very small saplings that I saw this morning.
As I looked at those small oak trees, I felt that the Lord was reminding me of His life giving creative power that can be seen in nature, but that also has its spiritual counterpart in us, in our new ‘spirit life’ within. We have been born again and the natural order of things will be for that new life to grow, and grow, unless we deliberately shut it down, by starving it of the sun – the love of God, nutrition – His words, and living water – the life of the Holy Spirit flowing through us.
Every time we feel that we have failed or have messed up, and every time that we feel that our growth has been stunted, let us thank Him for this wonderful principal of growth, natural and spiritual. I believe that as we turn away from our sense of failure, and even disappointment with ourselves, and turn instead to the Lord, to receive forgiveness (if we need to) and to thank Him for the power of His new life within, it will be like sending our roots down further, to draw on this new life within us.
Thanksgiving, in this way, stops us relying on our own efforts to ‘grow’ ourselves, and enables us to humbly yield to His life within, agreeing with Jesus who said, “without me you can do nothing”, John 15:5. And so we circle back to recognizing ourselves as those who need to ‘Abide in Him’ at all times in order to grow and bear fruit. We may also begin to see ourselves with the eyes of faith, as He sees us, not as a little saplings but as ‘the oaks of righteousness’, Isaiah 61:3, that He has planned for us to become.