At the end of last year I received an answer to prayer. I had asked God for a garden. There was only one rental out of all the houses we looked at that had a garden and we were accepted. It is such a joy for my heart to have a garden now.
In the middle of the garden is a giant oak tree. It is magnificent with branches stretching high and wide and providing vast shade and beauty.
Jesus has spoken into my heart a few times as I have sat under this old oak tree.
‘Look what grew from just a little seed Liana.’ My eyes followed up and up to the top of the oak and down again. Woah.
‘My life is in this tree, for I am the way, the truth and I am the LIFE remember. I am in every living thing that I created. I sustain all of it. And my seeds have remarkable power within them.’
I looked at the thickness of its huge trunk and the thousands of leaves like a canopy of glory above me. ‘Wow God’ I whispered back.
In Isaiah 61:3 God used oak trees as a powerful picture for what we could grow into; ‘They will be called Oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord’s splendour’.
When you see an oak tree, you only see half of it for they have giant root systems which extend much further than the size of the tree’s expanse. Much of why they are flourishing is below the surface.
Their root system is ever expanding under the ground as they continually search for water and nutrients for more and more growth and health for the tree above. Oak trees can apparently drink up to 50 gallons a day of water. Also, trees firmly planted with strong root systems can withstand fierce storms and can live for hundreds of years.
God desires us to have a good foundation and he is even more concerned with our root system than our visible outward growth. A good root system will naturally support a tree to mature and grow with flowers or fruit in time.
Sometimes we are in such a rush to get instant answers from God, but meanwhile he is trying to help establish us first firmly in His love and truths.
Colossians 2:7 in the VOICE translation says ‘Let your roots grow down deeply in Him and let him build you up on a firm foundation.’
Investing in our roots would probably look like reading our Bible daily and coming into his presence regularly to be filled up and to listen to him. Showing God that we are hungry for his nourishment.
I have also been challenged here - to be careful to not put the desired fruitfulness in God such as ministries and even timely breakthroughs - before the foundation of Christ and the focus of being planted by His river, in His great love.
Interestingly, an oak tree takes around 30-40 years to mature and then it will begin to produce acorns which are oak-tree seeds. Acorns become oak trees when given all the right conditions. Water, sun, light, good soil, space and time to grow.
When we invest in, encourage, disciple and pray for people and when we truly believe in and encourage their potential to become mighty oaks for Christ, God can grow more mighty oaks for the kingdom.
In nature, oak tree seedlings need protection from wildlife eating them. Gardening advice for planting oak tree seedlings is to protect them until they are at least five feet tall from all wildlife.
To me, this speaks a parallel with the need to protect new Christians and help disciple people to maturity until they too have strong root systems in Christ and can withstand storms.
I believe God wants us to mature and expand and then be a safe place to shelter others underneath so that under our branches people can find rest and shade from the heat of whatever they are going through. His desire is for us to keep pursuing Christ and naturally as we have our eyes on Him, we will be growing towards being the Mighty Oaks that the Lord invites us to become.
Liana is a passionate and creative soul, living in South Australia and married to her artist husband of 12 years, Justin. Liana is an early childhood educator and also writes, sings, occasionally dances, loves nature, is a psalmist and runs a women's ministry.