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Oaks of Righteousness

I took this photo of my husband last weekend. It seemed profound somehow then.. How small he appears as he surveys all of the wild wisteria that has grown up unchecked in our new-ish yard. What can we even do about this? Where do we start? 

We are dealing with an invasive species. It grows rapidly and is dangerous, as it can smother shrubs or even understory trees beneath the heavy weight of its vines. It grows around the trunks of a few large oaks inside the fenced-in area of our backyard and it almost seems to circle the trunk at the ground, vining up, like a predator prowling for prey. 

It's interesting that wisteria is not likely to choke out a larger tree; mostly just those trees with a smaller diameter. However, it can grow up the trunk of a tree. It will creep out and around smaller side branches, strangling them as they grow. With its thick foliage, it can shade out a tree, weakening it, and all of those ever-thickening vines high up on that tree greatly increase its chance of coming down in a windstorm. 

It is recommended that wisteria be cut off at the base. 

This same weekend, my husband came to me with John 15. And there it was:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit." (John 15:1-2)

Do you ever feel like the sin in your life looks a lot like this overgrowth of wisteria? Like you are just staring down this giant and wondering how in the world you can ever overcome? 

What in the world can we even do about this? Where do we start?

I mean, in the case of the wisteria, we can start. Slowly but surely plodding away at cutting back the vines. But realistically, how much can we do? We can't eradicate it. At best, we can manage it. 

Oh, did I say that was in the case of the wisteria? Well, SAME, in the case of our sin. 

Look at John 15 again. God is the gardener. THE gardener. He's not someone who has never seen this before and He's not someone who just had to google wisteria (ahem). He is the One we can call on when we are overwhelmed and He is the One who prunes us. 

He cuts back every branch in us that doesn't bear fruit and He even prunes the ones that already bear fruit so that we will produce more fruit. 

And I don't know about you, but I don't want my sin to grow wildly and unbridled to the point that it has crept up and begun choking out any growth or fruit that may be growing. And I don't want to be consumed or weighed down so that when a storm comes, I can't withstand. I don't want to fall. I don't want to be destroyed. 

I think maybe I want to be more like those mighty oaks inside the fence. I want to be rooted. I want to have a thick diameter, if you will, that is strong and sturdy. I want the years of walking with the Lord to be easily read like the rings inside a tree trunk that are used to determine the age of a tree. I want this to be evidence of His goodness: here's where it all began, here is where there was a dry season and here, a rainy season. Here there was even damage sustained from a fire- but look at how through it all, there was still growth. Look at how, no matter what, she remained. And, ultimately, look at how, through it all, He sustained her and grew her and cleansed her. 

I look at these oaks inside the fence and I look at the trees outside. The ones outside are surrounded, covered, darn near consumed. And even those are not too far gone for the Gardener. But when I look at the oaks inside the fence, I think I would much rather have just a bit of wisteria creeping around, right? It's far more manageable, after all. 

There's this massive oak, though, right out front. And basically, these five oaks are in a row, with this mammoth oak leading the way. And I'm thinking now: no, I want to be like that one. No wisteria threatening to slither up. Just a firm, beautiful oak. 

Isaiah 61:3b: "..that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified [Or 'that he may display his beauty']."

Oh yes. Let any sin in me, though it may at first be overwhelming and untamed, be cut away so that I may, in some supernatural and God-given way, display the Lord's beauty. May I be an oak of righteousness so that He may be glorified. 

Jesus, may I remain in You all the days of my life. May I stand tall: rooted in You, Jesus, dressed in your righteousness and displaying the beauty of the Lord. May I yield to your pruning, O God, knowing that You will produce much fruit and, from this, be so glorified. Oh yes, Lord. May You be most glorified. 

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