This is is what I want to be when I grow up. And I think this is what God wants me to be when I grow up.
An oak of righteousness.
My Bible opens to Isaiah 61 very easily. The bookmark with my daughter's picture - the one that was given out at her funeral - marks the passage for me. The words here are underlined and circled. When I need comfort, I open my Bible to Isaiah 61. When I need encouragement, I open my Bible to Isaiah 61. When I need reminded that God is still growing me into something better, I open my Bible to Isaiah 61.
This chapter brings such hope to broken people. It is a prophecy written by Isaiah and fulfilled by Christ Jesus at both his first coming (referred to as the year of the Lord's favor) and his second coming (the day of vengeance). Jesus has been anointed by God the Father through the Spirit to bring good news; to "pull it together" for me when I can't; to proclaim freedom from whatever is holding me back; to lead me out of the darkness; to shout out blessings and redemption over my head. He has come to comfort and provide for me as I grieve. To trade out the ashes of my brokenness for a crown of beauty. To trade out my mourning for gladness. To trade out my despair for praise.
And then. Then. THEN I will be called on an oak of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (v. 1-3).
This is what I want to be! And I can be. I will be. The end of this chapter in Isaiah says that as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up (v. 11). From a meager little acorn that lies broken on the ground, I can grow into an oak of righteousness.
And because Jesus fulfilled verses 1-3, I can fulfill verses 4-7. I can rebuild and restore and renew. I can receive a double portion and everlasting joy.
And so can you. And so can my kids and your family and our communities.
Imagine a forest of tall, strong, solid oaks of righteousness. Planted and grown by the Lord for the display of his splendor.
God, this dirt around me has become mud with my tears, and my fingernails are filthy from my own efforts to make something out of all this nothing. Yet I want so badly for you to grow me. So I will sit here in the dirt and rest quietly, allowing you to pour over my head whatever you think is best. You grow me into something beautiful, God. Something full of your righteousness. Something that displays your splendor. And even though I don't feel strong and confident on my own, when you lift me up, I will stand tall in my crown of beauty, overflowing with gladness and praise.
Today I will be an oak of righteousness. All for your splendor, Lord.