What is God doing in our lives as we trust in him?
It’s a good question, but not always an easy one to answer. The Bible talks a lot about God’s work by his Spirit: his work to make us holy and righteous; his work to bring us to perfection and wholeness. But that can be quite difficult for us to grasp. While it is reassuring to know that God is working for our good, the details can seem abstract, distant and disconnected from our everyday joys and struggles.
Thankfully God, through his word, talks not only in details but also in pictures. From the parables of Jesus to the poems of the prophets, the Bible is full of images. That is, I believe, for a very good reason. We find images and pictures much easier to understand, to remember and to hold on to. When we can struggle to get our head around who God is and what he is up to, a picture can bring things down to earth and make it easier to grasp.
So, what is God doing in our lives? He is making us into trees:
”They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour.”Isaiah 61:3
Here is a verse in the middle of a chapter talking about God’s restoration for his people. This was a promise spoken to Israel in exile to show what God would do when they return to the Promised Land. It’s also a promise picked up by Jesus to explain the coming kingdom of God. It’s therefore a promise that shows what God is doing in his world, and in us as we trust in him.
God wants to make us into ‘oaks of righteousness’. It’s a terrific picture for us to hold on to if we are unsure about what God is doing in us each day. Here are just a few things that this picture conjures up for us:
Trees are stable, strong and secure. An oak is a mighty tree, well rooted and not easily torn down or moved from its place. God wants to root us in him and make us able to weather whatever storms of life come our way as we trust in him.
Trees are fruitful. The picture of an ‘oak of righteousness’ brings to mind a tree which is full of leaves, bearing fruit (or acorns in the case of an oak!), being productive and healthy. God wants us not only to endure, but to flourish. He is at work to produce his fruit of righteousness in our lives like healthy leaves on a tree.
Trees are beautiful and majestic. There is something awe-inspiring about a great oak or towering cedar. Trees that soar into the sky are breathtaking to look at. They give us a sense of what God is working in our lives. God wants to take us and make us awesome and wonderful. We are not just productive in righteousness but beautiful in righteousness too. God wants to make our identity and worth set in him and therefore full of wonder and majesty.
What are you working towards or aiming for? I don’t know about you, but I want to be a tree. I long to see the image that God has planted through Isaiah to be true in my life, and in the lives of those I know. This is a picture that should inspire my living and my praying. God, make me into an oak of righteousness, and my brothers and sisters in Christ into a planting of the Lord, for the display of His glory and splendour. Amen.