Links Daily Devotional

Rooted as Oaks

…and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

Fall golf can be some of the most peaceful and beautiful rounds we play all year. The cooler temperatures, the smells, and the changing trees create a fresh experience. I recently played with some friends and even though we were unable to finish because of darkness, we enjoyed the beauty of the course and a sweet time of fellowship through laughter and conversation.

This year, the transition from summer to fall was difficult for me. My summer went so quickly that I found myself longing for more of its warmth, fun, and freedom. However, a few weeks ago the beauty of the trees and their brilliant color captured me and it was time to embrace the transition.

The main reason fall foliage occurs is because the days have less light and more darkness. Fewer hours of daylight decreases photosynthesis for trees to remain green. The trees are not dying, rather they are entering a state of self-protection in preparation for the approaching harsh winter conditions that can freeze tender leaf tissues. As a result, the trees either toughen up to protect their leaves or dispose of them. The trees are in distress and yet we see amazing beauty.

During the days of the prophet Isaiah, the people of Israel had turned their back on God, who is light, and allowed darkness to fill their hearts. They had an attitude of toughing up and in choosing to live apart from God captivity, loss, disappointment, heartache, and crushed spirits consumed them. Yet in the middle of their mess, God continued to see beauty in his people and had compassion to redeem those who repented of their sins (Isaiah 59:20).

As the people grieved in Zion, they experienced a transition of seasons: a crown of beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, and the spirit of despair to a garment of praise. God was going to rename them “oaks of righteousness” for the splendor of his own glory.

This scripture has become very dear to my heart over the past two years. Although I have never willingly turned my back on God, I spent many years surviving in my world by relying on my own toughness and agreeing with many lies of the evil one that kept me living small and kept me silent about harm, disappointment, loss, betrayal, abandonment, ambivalence, and brokenness in my heart. During these years I slowly entered a state of self-protection where the tender places of my heart were dying.

I was tired and ready for something better, and I needed God’s redemption over the darkness that was trying to suffocate my soul. God’s compassion has come through a few safe women who have stopped to listen and care for me in the middle of my distress. Their care and kindness has helped me find my voice and brilliant colors in my heart again. Although the journey has been painful and heartbreaking at times, I am experiencing beauty in the ashes, joy in the midst of mourning, and a spirit of praise.

It won’t be long before fall turns into winter and we long for the new life of spring. Instead of entering a state of self-preservation for the winter that will come, we can lean into our discomfort with the assurance that we are “oaks of righteousness” filled with God’s glory.

Tracy Hanson

October 29, 2012

Copyright 2012 Links Players International

The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.