Today I returned to Alan Fadling’s book, An unhurried life: following Jesus’ rhythms of work and rest. In it he describes how early in his ministry Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth and announced his purpose by reading these verses from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…
And if Jesus had kept reading he would have come to these words in verse three:
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
I was struck by this image and Fadling’s explanation that we are “these oaks of righteousness planted by the Lord [to] put his splendour on display, a display quite different from human excitement, enthusiasm and thrills. Splendor is quieter, stronger, less hurried and more deeply rooted.”
As I read this I was reminded of a gorgeous picture book called Tina the Tree by Andrew McDonough. You can read the whole story on the Lost Sheep website, but if I may summarise here, Tina the tree lives by a life-giving river in the hot dry climate of Australia. Tina loves to show hospitality to all the living creatures around her. But soon Tina is running herself ragged trying to help everyone.
What they really need is for Tina to stay by the river and sink her roots into the water. Strong and healthy, she can provide food, safety and shelter for the creatures who need her.
We are designed to display the Lord’s splendour, and we can’t do that by constantly running around in a hurry trying to get more done. As we are planted by the Lord we need time to be still, to send down roots and to grow in him.
This is Day 5 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).