The Secret to Thriving.

May 30, 2021 • Filed under: • Tagged: ,

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.

Connected.

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.

© 2021 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

10 Comments

  • Ethel Romig says:

    So well said! I just cannot have any kind of life apart from being deeply and grounded in Him. As I I look back over the years of the very worst times of my life: they have not been caused by physical circumstances, losses of any kind, or ill health. It were the times I was Not snuggled in closely to my Good Shepherd by intently listening to His word, talking to Him about everything and living life surrendered to His will.

    • Laurie says:

      None of us can “have any kind of life apart from being deeply and grounded in Him.” We just think we can. We give it a try sometimes, but it never works.

  • Steven Cable says:

    Excellent reminder via the oak branches of why we need to stay connected to God through the Word. Great example with the piano player, but true of everything we do. No one is a “natural” at anything. It takes work even to make it look natural. We’ll only be good at what we do often, we’ll only get better when we put the time into learning and practicing. Same for sports, same for any skill, same for our relationships with each other and with God. Excellent reminder. Thanks for using your skills to write these every week to spur us all on to love and good deeds.

    Steve Cable

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you for the kind words. Yes, the principle of practice applies to every area of our life. To be successful in anything, hard work is required, but I have also been learning that just because someone works hard does not mean they become successful. The glorious news about staying connected to Jesus is that success is guaranteed EVERY SINGLE TIME in the spiritual realm. I am so comforted by that!

  • Jewl says:

    Thanks for reminders of truth. We read this in the car as a family today. Love the idea that your oak tree may outgrow your house some day!

    • Laurie says:

      I am humbled right now imagining your family reading this together. My goodness. May the proportion of my oak tree to my house someday be true of the proportion of how God uses me compared to the length of my life. May that out-of-proportion reality be true for all of us. I think I see that promise in the Bible as long as we trust Him and live for Him.

  • LeAnn says:

    Wow! This is a great post. I love how you take everyday happenings and use them as life lessons. God has so given you a gift in that way! Thank you for writing and sharing your gift with us. Thank you for painting such beautiful word pictures and analogies! I needed this post this morning as I wrestle with something and need to make sure I’m connected to the Lord. Thank you!

    • Laurie says:

      I am glad you enjoyed this word picture. May God grant you His wisdom as you wrestle something out. I am praying for you.

  • Joiya Efemini says:

    Laurie, your words are poetry. Thank you for sharing this gift from God.

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