We are Seeds, Not Superheroes
…that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
The other day I saw a tree. It was a crisp and sunny day, and I sat on my front step waiting for my wife and kids to get home from somewhere. The tree that caught my attention was across the street from me, and every few seconds it would drop a light green leaf, which flickered and fell among other leaves which fell the same way.
The first thing I noticed was the canopy of the tree. Maybe this is obvious, but I hadn’t thought about the fact that as trees grow, their canopy of leaves grows, which allows for more growth – and so on. Growth allows more growth. Leaves are flat, which allows them to catch sunlight and water. So as the tree grows, it grows more leaves which allows it to grow even more.
Which brings me to my second observation.
The second thing I noticed after nerding out on the leaves was that as a tree grows in size and strength its shadow – or shade – grows too. As a tree matures and develops its ability to provide shade (which you could call rest) increases.
The tree reminded me of our sanctification process. As we grow in Christ, we too grow in our ability to provide rest for others. The Lord strengthens our character so we can model him and thus inspire others toward godly behavior. The Lord strengthens our hope so we can share it with others. The Lord grows our compassion so we can have compassion for others. Our growth in Christ makes us more useful tools in his hands.
Do trees will themselves to grow? Do they follow a 5 step plan or read books on self-growth? No, they just bask in the sun and rain. They receive life-giving sun, water, and nutrients as they sit there. In the same way, as much as many of us would like to improve ourselves by sheer will or innovative life hacks, the truth is that we are grown like trees by the elements of life. God is the Arborist. We cannot fast forward the process, and Lord knows it isn’t perfectly linear. Or painless. The process of sanctification is confusing and mysterious and intense and wonderful. We are grown as we submit to God’s Word and worship his greatness.
The prophet Isaiah calls people whom God grows in him “oaks of righteousness”. These individuals are firmly planted in the Lord and grown by him. I know some oaks of righteousness and I crave their company because they’re delightful people. But one thing remains true – we aren’t the point. In the Bible, you’ll notice that God’s children are beneficiaries of his blessing but they are never the hero.
God grows us so we will delight in him and as we delight in him we broadcast his glorious name.