Athlete, Consider the Oak Tree
1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)
Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!
The oak tree provides a solid object lesson, with many abstract life learnings readily available.
Years ago, poet, Johnny Ray Ryder Jr., penned the following allegory:
A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing Oak?”
The oak tree said, “I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.”
A few takeaways:
1. Nothing of lasting value is ever easy. From making the varsity team as a walk-on to being the first in your family to graduate, to initiating in hard conversations, to restoring relationships, to celebrating 50 years of marriage, to being at the hospice bedside of a loved one (and many things in between), often the hard, integrity-laced route is counterintuitive to the popular standard, easy accepted norms.
But it’s the counter-cultural character and effort that sets a part doers from dreamers. It’s worth it to know the pains of failure and the heights of success rather than to remain a cold, timid soul who knows neither.
2. Like a rubber band, you often fulfill your purpose only when being stretched the most. You discover new muscles and inner strength you never knew existed. And in a new raw way, you become more reliant on Christ … and reaffix your attention on Him.
3. Where are you rooted? Are you steady or do you sway too often with the twists and turns of life? What parts of life do you feel like you actually control?
When life doesn’t work how you envisioned it, how strong is your faith?
4. What are you actively engaged in today to help strengthen your resolve? Though many aspire for an “easy” life; those aspirations with no God-given purpose often bring with it apathy and atrophy.
5. Performance, achievement, success doesn’t define oneself -– only Jesus can do that.