Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Be the Olive Tree

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
I will praise you forever for what you have done;
in your name I  will hope, for your name is good.
I will praise you in the presence of your saints. (Psalms 52:8-9)

This verse is planted in the middle of one of those psalms whose composition was clearly provoked through some difficult trial of the psalmist in which some powerful, deceitful person was weilding influence.  The psalmist sees injustice, imagining the justice that God himself will carry out against this man once all is said and done.  At the end, he refocuses himself, as we all must do, and ends his poem with this declaration of faithfulness.
I became curious about the olive tree after reading this passage.  There are some things that probably everyone in Israel knows about olive trees that many of us do not, and so I wanted to investigate.  It was encouraging, so I thought I would share.

Cool Stuff About Olive Trees

1. Olive trees can live for thousands of years, continuing to give fruit! 

2.Olive trees can survive great hardship--even a fire that destroys the tree above ground will not destroy the root.  Within days after a fire, an olive tree can send up new shoots.  Talk about resilience.

3.Olive trees can be killed by over-watering.  Apparently, babying an olive tree can produce disease that will end it's life.

Cool Stuff About People Who Plant Themselves in the House of God

1. We can give fruit for many years, producing an impressive yield.  It is the location that makes the difference.  In the house of God, the soil is just right, and when we live there, the fruit follows.

2.We can survive great hardship when our roots are deep in the House of God.  You can't grow roots where you only sit once a week.  We have to live there.  But if we do, we can expect there to be shoots coming up, even after the greatest trials imaginable.  Olive trees with deep roots are survivors, and so are those who make the Almighty their home.

3.Our growth can be stunted if life gets too easy, and we can even spiritually die.  Have you ever seen a person for whom life is too easy?  When things are too easy, we seem to be able to create problems to obsess over.  We weren't created for ease, but for God's pleasure, and conflict and diffuculties are His pruning tools. 

I want to be the olive tree.  Olives are delicious(I grew up eating them as a little Italian-American), and the oil that comes from them is really good for you. They are strong and durable, showing off their best quality in the face of trouble--their resilience.  They were not created as something delicate, but as something enduring.  I want to send up shoots even in the most difficult season, signaling to all around that I WILL survive, even when the fire or pruning has been severe.  I will accept that an easy life could very well be the death of me, and so I will accept  the turbulence of my life, whatever it may be, knowing it is serving the purpose of keeping me very close to the Savior, with deep roots in the house of God.

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