oak: for when you want to mimic a tree

“Think of the self that God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God’s intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is ‘… the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don’t feel that the loss’ of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God’s purpose in your life, the less terrible the losses seem.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

When we feel burdened, weary and depleted in body, mind or spirit, it can produce a kind of dull lethargy inside. Then, as we listen to what it has to say to us, we gradually start to sense a deeper message within our souls.

The loving voice of Holy Spirit speaks louder than our sadness and softer than our shame. God is calling us to pay attention and seek His help and strength. He longs to rescue us and set us back on a more positive pathway again.

Our desire to feel different, better, stronger assumes a greater urgency than our problems and pain. It cannot easily be ignored. We long for resolution and begin by seeking it in the best place we know: In prayer. From listening to our heart’s deepest needs, we turn our souls Christ-ward and lay these burdens at His feet.

Like an oak

let me be
sturdy, strong, unbending
like an oak tree
rooted deep into the earth
facing storms unperturbed

let me sit
as my heart steadily ticks
and take a deep breath
exhale anxiety and fear
with my burdened soul laid bare

let me stay
this painful course I am on
where life shades to grey
may I still emanate
holy hope, grace and strength

let me lean
and sway so I do not break
nor depend on me
but trust in God’s saving love
when I feel inadequate

let me sink
much deeper into Christ
inhale his strength
spreading faith leaves everywhere
with healing, support and prayer
© joylenton

“To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3 AMPC – [emphasis added]

You can discover more about the metaphysical meaning of an oak tree here and read about how weakness can coexist with strength here. 🙂 ❤

oak - like an oak tree poem excerpt - let me be sturdy, strong, unbending (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

31 thoughts on “oak: for when you want to mimic a tree

  1. Not exactly feeling like the mighty oak right now, but I leave the matters of my health in Jesus’ hands, and I have faith everything will be fine.
    Beautiful post Joy. I needed this today. Isn’t it amazing how he works his magic?

    • Drew, I feel for you, my friend. I’m more wobbly sapling than mighty oak myself. Yet faith is the stake holding us fast while it gives us room to breathe, move, stretch and grow stronger than before. Keep on trusting in the magic of holy mystery revealed to mortal flesh. And may you also rest and recover your energy and strength. Blessings and prayers for you to maintain your peace and joie de vivre. 😊

  2. Good afternoon, Joy, thank you for baring your soul as you teach us about becoming more like the oak. It is my prayer that we as a people grow deeper roots, so that nobody is left behind. May God bless you today, Joy. I trust Him to meet you where you are and provide exactly what you need. Love in Christ, Julie

    • Hello Julie. Forgive my tardy reply. Fatigue has made my eyes hypersensitive and not too good at tolerating looking at screens. So I’m a bit late in responding here. Amen to growing deeper roots! That’s a key thing for our spiritual growth and fruitfulness. I’m appreciating how God meets with me in my weakness. He comes without reproach but with kindest love, and with the reassurance that I am enough even when I cannot do very much. May you be blessed in your own area of greatest need because God delights to fill our emptiness with His abundant fullness. Love and hugs! xo 💜

  3. Dear Joy,
    Thank you for this beautiful poem/prayer today. And thank you for the opening quote by Elisabeth Elliot. It is so true, that when we look at the giant oak, the acorn’s surrender doesn’t seem so great. But I am so thankful that Jesus is with us through each surrender. This stanza is reaching into my heart today, as I face a medical treatment tomorrow. He truly is here:

    let me lean
    and sway so I do not break
    nor depend on me
    but trust in God’s saving love
    when I feel inadequate

    Just what I needed to hear today. I’m copying this prayer into my journal for tomorrow’s reading. May you be blessed in your resting time with Him. Love and Hugs across the sea dear Heart/Sister! xoxo

    • Dear Bettie, Elisabeth Elliot’s words are encouraging, aren’t they? I’m so glad I found that quote. Oh yes to this: “I am so thankful that Jesus is with us through each surrender.” What a wonderful difference it makes! We tend to rigidly anticipate new situations with degrees of fear or dread, seeing potential pitfalls before they can occur. But Jesus teaches us to remain open, calm and pliant in our thinking, and trusting in our souls as we lean harder on Him than on ourselves. Your email tells me you had a much better experience than you expected, and God was very much present with you in the tiny details. That’s great cause for praise and rejoicing! I pray you will be blessed with peace as you rest and recover from the infusion. Love and hugs to you too, dear Heart-Sister and friend! xoxo 💜

  4. Such beautiful words, Joy. I was so blessed reading this. Each death brings new life, even when it looks/seems so hopeless. His Promises to us are steadfast and true.

    I am especially touched by these words:

    “exhale anxiety and fear
    with my burdened soul laid bare”

    I was just in 1 Peter this morning, looking at how Peter speaks of humility as something that comes as we cast our anxiety upon our Lord, knowing that He cares for us.

    It’s almost like He also causes our exhaling of anxiety and fear, isn’t it? He leads us to come to Him, so that He can lay our burdened souls bare. Just as you shared: He leads us in prayer.

    Two nights ago I came home from running practice, thinking about how nice it was not to have to put the kids to bed that night. God’s response was my husband’s correction: he told me it was so much nicer that night without me rushing the kids off to bed. He talked about getting to chat with them and have fun with them.

    By God’s grace, I humbled myself to receive the truth in God’s correction through my husband. At first I was upset and I felt shame covering me, but I kept my mouth shut and as I stood under the shower moments later, Jesus helped me to receive the truth and grace so present in my husband. I invited Him to teach me how to relax and let go of my control and rushing. He did! And just wow what a different night last night was!

    I was so at peace and really ENJOYED my girls and they even got to bed at a good time without me once rushing them. This was truly HIS exhaling of all anxiety and fear in me to rest in His peace.

    Interestingly, the days before all this unfolded, God had been reminding me so much of various times He had humbled me beneath His mighty hand to release my body of tension. It was like He was preparing me to accept His correction here.

    • Dear Anna, I’m so pleased those words resonated with you. I needed to see them again, I think, because fear has been seeking to get the upperhand in me and I can forget to exhale and unburden my soul sometimes. I love your honesty in sharing how God taught you a truth through gentle reproof. And it’s heartening to hear how the willingness to submit and alter your behaviour and thoughts led to a much calmer bedtime for your daughters and a more peaceful experience for you all. How easily we can carry tension in our bodies and fail to notice it! Yet when we do finally exhale it before God, we feel so much better and relaxed. I’ve been whispering the word “calm” in my meditative prayer time and it’s amazing how it swiftly changes how I am feeling. I hope and pray you and your family will enjoy more peaceful, calm days and evenings ahead. Blessings and love. xo 💜

      • Yes: we carry that tension so easily. Especially when we have been through traumatic situations as children. Our bodies learn behaviors that are unhealthy for us: clamping down on control, when actually yielding to God’s control and safety will free us to receive and give love.

        I am praying Romans 6:11-13 today and it is so beautiful to see the alternate meanings:

        “So you must also reason to a logical conclusion and decide that you are powerless/unresponsive to failure/forfeiture and are experiencing God’s gift of life in Christ Jesus. Let failure/forfeiture therefore not reign as king in your dying, to make you listen and respond to its strong feelings/urges. Do not place yourself next to its members, to failure/forfeiture as weapons of injustice/hurt, but stand yourselves beside God as those experiencing God’s gift of life and your members beside God as weapons of justice/approval of God.” 

        His Promises to us are sure and steadfast. He will breathe His deliverance in us both (also through our breath prayers), moment by moment and bless us and others through our yielding. Thank you for your prayers for calm days and evenings: I pray the same for you.

      • Anna, I know just what you mean in assimilating tension from childhood trauma. I carry most of mine in my neck and shoulders, and the levels of pain in those places remind me to release and relax. I love the thought of how yielding to God enables us to be free to give and receive love. The passage in Romans hits home strongly as you’ve worded it here. May we hang onto the promise of God’s gift of life in all its fullness during this season of worldly unrest, dismay, anxiety and chaos. So many are crying out for deliverance and help. We need our souls to be centred on holy calm, hope and peace as we pray and rest in the promises of provision He makes for us. Blessings, love and prayers. xo 💜

  5. If you want to do me a big favor, buy the Kindle version for $1.99, read it, and leave me an honest two sentence review on Amazon. I’m a little guy in the book publishing world, so verified Amazon reviews make a huge difference for me.

    • Kurt, I’ve just ordered a Kindle copy but can’t guarantee when I can get round to reading it. I’m currently way behind with reading and reviewing the books I receive from the NetGalley site because my eyes are often too sore to look at a screen for long. But once I have read it, I am very happy to leave a review for you. Though we could be talking weeks if not months ahead due to my fragile heath. I’m a tiny fish in a huge publishing pond myself so I quite understand your position. You might like to check out the latest book I wrote last spring about embracing hope. Blessings, dear fellow creative! 🙂

      • Found it and just bought the Kindle version. Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues. I totally get the stack of books to read thing. I’m in the same situation. Your book looks fairly short though so I’ll try to get to it as soon as I can. Hope and pray your health improves. God bless you Joy!

      • Thank you, Kurt, I appreciate your support! I have had M.E and other chronic illness for about 30 years but also get frequent periods of worsening symptoms. As I’m just getting over a viral illness I had in early January, I’m needing to rest and recover more than write on the blogs. It’s one of the few “active” things I do when sufficient energy and inspiration are available to me. Blessings of health and strength to you! 🙂

      • Thank you for your kind and generous praise, Kurt. I think we all have a unique voice, perspective and words to share. They may differ from others but are just as valued and appreciated by those who receive them. As people of faith our task is to simply be faithful to the specific calling on our lives as we accept the creative gift we have.

        Now I feel bad because I’m actually making the Kindle version free for a few days from tomorrow as a means of helping those who might need to embrace hope more strongly right now. Yet you willingly parted with your money to read it Thank you for your faith in me! We writers are all insecure at heart, I think, but I believe in you too, my friend. 😉

  6. I was happy to buy it! I feel like your poems are almost like Psalms. But in your book, I get to have a short conversation with the “Psalmist” after each one. It’s a brilliant book. Not just being kind. It really is.

    • I’m so pleased it’s speaking to you, Kurt. After I published it, I was flat out exhausted and too unwell to promote it at all. I had to take an extended six month break from social media, blogging and public writing. Yet during that time God began to open up the creative well again and I resumed those things in January. All to say that the timing and reception of our words is very much in His hands. Bless you, Brother. 😊

  7. Joy, this is so beautiful. I love the whole poem but these last lines are also my prayer:
    “let me sink
    much deeper into Christ
    inhale his strength
    spreading faith leaves everywhere
    with healing, support and prayer”
    Thank you for always pointing us to Christ. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear sister/poet/friend! xoxo

    • Gayl, I’m so grateful you highlighted those words because they have hit me with a deeper resonance than when they were first written. God frequently speaks to us through our own writing, doesn’t He? Maybe the words are primarily intended for us and also to be shared with others. It’s a joy to see you here, dear sister and friend! Thank you for always bringing a keen eye, fresh perspective, and a beautiful heart of encouragement. Blessings, love and hugs to you too! xoxo 💜

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