Monday, July 23, 2007

Oaks of righteousness

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Isaiah 61, 62, 63

Isaiah: 61:1-3(NIV)

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

Good morning!

Are you a tree climber? Aunt Pauline had a great big oak tree in her back yard, just perfect to perch in. Cousin Roger and I used to climb that tree and sit for hours every Saturday afternoon, while reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. We imagined that Roger was Huck and I was Becky and from the view up above, we could see the muddy Mississippi River rolling by. A solid oak, with thick and sturdy limbs, that tree supported our bodies and provided shade in the heat of summer. The smell of those green, minty leaves and the sparkle of the sunshine peeking through its branches, made for a secret hiding place. Of course, our aunt could see us from the kitchen window. We were never out of her sight or far from the sound of her contagious laughter.

That oak tree was a true friend to a little girl who needed something solid to hold onto. Every weekend, I would run to that tree and it was always there, just waiting for me to arrive. Its branches were beckoning; reaching out – inviting me to climb up into its arms. “Come hither, dear child,” the voice of the oak would sing sweetly in the breeze. The branches never budged or cracked, as I climbed up its trunk in my red Keds® sneakers. When dinner time came, I would shimmy down its trunk, hug my forever friend goodbye, and head into the house. In the bathroom, while washing the scrapes and dirt from under my finger nails, the smell of Bactine® antiseptic on white cotton balls reminded me of where I had spent one incredible day.

At the School of Lay Ministries this past weekend, I remembered the significance of that solid oak foundation during one of our teaching sessions. The pastor said that when we greet our guests and extend the right hand of Christian fellowship to each other, Jesus Christ, the Lord of life Himself, reaches through us and touches the one we are meeting, maybe for the very first time. It is Jesus Christ who then gently draws that person unto Himself. Like the oak tree welcoming the children in my aunt’s back yard, we invite all of God’s children into a rock solid relationship that will never fail. We are His solid oak branches, extending grace, mercy and peace to all who would answer the call of Christ and experience the sweet whispers of His refreshing breeze. The Holy Spirit moves just like that! We can get a whiff of His love every time we open our hearts and extend the hand of Christ to a world who desperately needs to know Him.

One hundred twenty-two oaks of righteousness stood side-by-side in the upper room of the student center at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri this weekend. We are His branches, inviting, embracing, and extending the love of Christ to everyone we meet. Oaks of righteousness are springing up everywhere. They may be as close to you as in your own back yard, inviting you to come. We are the body of Christ. We invite you to climb up into His everlasting arms. He is real; He is alive, and He is reaching out to you right now.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: faith! It is time to climb the tree! Put on your sneakers, and reach out to the One who is calling out your name. Come hither, dear child, and experience the unfailing love of Jesus Christ, the solid oak of righteousness.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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