The Secret to Thriving.
Four years ago we moved to a smaller house with a smaller yard. Nothing fancy, but exactly what we wanted.
I am happy here.
In our front yard is an oak tree. As the founder of Oaks Ministries, how appropriate. I am fond of acorns and oak leaves because they represent growth and strength. I pray “Oaks” is used by God to strengthen His church by helping people learn to display God’s nature to a watching world NO MATTER WHAT.
I love our oak tree.
I have noticed other neighbors are cutting theirs down, probably because they are becoming too massive in proportion to our smaller homes. I have wondered if our tree will one day outgrow our house. Her spreading branches make it difficult to grow grass underneath and we have to rake more than leaves.
We rake up acorns in massive quantities!
My son put too many acorns in a paper yard bag this year and the bottom split wide open as soon as he picked it up. As I helped him rake up a heavy, dense pile of acorns that bent the rake and fatigued my arms, I remembered the beginning of my dream for Oaks Ministries, that God would plant an immense amount of seeds in people’s lives that continue to grow after I am gone and result in strengthening the body of Christ. I imagine the church becoming a brighter light of the world with each passing year as each believer grows in his or her ability to maintain a strong walk with God through difficult circumstances.
As I type this, I look out my office window and see oaks leaves. Rather than resent the blocked light, I relish the shade and protection. This spring our tree’s branches started to extend over the driveways on each side, ours and our neighbor’s. This week my husband kindly trimmed the encroaching branches on the neighbor side. Three days later, on trash collection day, I grabbed the small shears I use to cut flowers for bouquets and began to cut the branch up into little pieces so I could take the lawn debris to the curb.
Snip. Snip. Snip. The wood was dry and brittle.
Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. The leaves were dry and fragile.
There I was in the back yard handling what had become weak and dry in just three short days of being disconnected from a tree trunk, while branches from the same tree were thriving in my front yard.
Famed pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski was asked why he practiced every day. He responded, “If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.” I think the same can be true of us missing “connecting” time with Jesus. If we miss one day, we know it; two days, our family knows; three days, everyone can tell.
Death happens so fast.
It takes years to grow a tree and no time at all to cut it down. My fiercely beautiful branch shriveled to nothing once cut from the trunk. Death of our spiritual lives happens just as quickly. Like a tree, three days of being disconnected from our head causes our hearts to become dry and brittle.
They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Colossians 2:19
Jesus is the head.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23
Apart from Him we can do nothing.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
The ONLY WAY we can survive is by staying connected to Jesus.
The ONLY WAY we can thrive is by staying connected to Jesus.
The ONLY WAY we can live with power is by staying connected to Jesus.
And the list goes on…
Does God seem far away? That is just a feeling. Hold out your hand and just say, “Jesus, I need you.” I did so this morning. I lay flat on the floor face down and said, “I can’t do it all,” and I gave Him the list. Then I stood up.
Picture Explanation: Branches connected to the trunk are strong and beautiful. We are the same when connected to Jesus, the head over everything. Let’s not live one moment disconnected.
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