Meridian Star

March 29, 2014

From the Shepherd’s Heart

By Dr. John A. Temple
Special to The Star

MERIDIAN — “So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”    — Isaiah 61:3

Recently, I visited the Mississippi Gulf Coast to see how recovery was progressing from a past hurricane.

    It was amazing how much had been destroyed and not replaced. Several hundred yards off the beach, nothing remains. One building destroyed was a church I had served many years ago. The sanctuary was built to be “hurricane proof.” However, man’s efforts failed to withstand nature.

    One thing that did survive was many of the live oaks. In Long Beach is the “Friendship Oak,” estimated to be over 500 years old. It seemed untouched by the storms of 500 years. With a huge trunk and long limbs spread to touch the ground, it looks braced for any storm that might come. Other trees such as the pines were gone, but this old oak remains.

    Live Oaks live a long time! Several reasons can be given:

    • Live Oaks have a vast root system. Live Oaks have developed root systems that are as impressive as the significant limbs above ground. Being well rooted helps resist the winds of time.

    • Live Oaks grow slow producing dense, strong wood. The trees that grow fast have weaker and more open grain in the wood. Live Oaks grow very slowly but produce stronger and tighter grain in the wood.

    • Live Oaks bend before they break. Strength matched with flexibility creates survivability. In storms, trees that cannot bend, break. Live Oaks have the ability to bend without breaking.

    • Live Oaks learn to adapt. The more storms a Live Oak faces, the greater capacity it seems to have to withstand the next storm that comes.

    In Isaiah 61:3, those that follow the Lord are called, “Oaks of Righteousness.” It says these oaks will be planted by the Lord. This event is later realized by the coming of Jesus as He uses this section of scripture to announce the beginning of His ministry.

    Like the live oaks, followers of Jesus should be “Oaks of Righteousness” with certain qualities within:

    • Our roots should go deep into our faith. Only when we are well rooted in the faith will we withstand the winds of change that society produces.

    • Our progress can be slow but must be strong. It doesn’t matter how fast we grow as much as how we grow. The character of who we are is everything when the storms come.

    • Our goal in life should be to resist without breaking. Our goal is not to be blown away by the latest pressure. However, we must be wise enough to know how to be submissive and yet committed. Our goal in life is to keep our character without compromising our stance.

    Our ability to survive should come from the storms we have faced. We learn from life and allow every situation to teach us how to be even stronger next time. We don’t give up. We learn, we grow, and we thrive when everyone else is blown away.

    If you find yourself in a storm, accept the fact that God has planted you where you are. Look to the Lord for your strength. Stand your ground. Learn from what you are feeling. Grow to be even more than you are right now. The storm will soon be over. Determine to be standing when the winds die down.

    Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www.