Like the mighty oak, our outside can look strong, but be hollow on the inside

Published 5:21 am Sunday, January 16, 2022

“ Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.” — Winston Churchill
I have always admired the beauty of a particular grove of oak trees that line the road just a few miles from my home.
I remember the site even from my childhood along scenic Duck Run road, highlighting the beauty of Branch Rickey’s childhood home.
As a matter of fact, it has always reminded me of something you would see in one of those travel magazines. Because of the age of the trees, I am often reminded of their frailty in the aftermath of strong wind with the site of broken branches big and small.
A few years back, strong winds toppled one of the silent giants that stood along the scenic thoroughfare.
The massive trunk that supported the large tree revealed that the large Oak was HOLLOW?
The strong beautiful tree was hollow on the inside!
The scriptures are full of word pictures, which remind us that God is not only interested in our outward appearance but also what’s on the inside.
From His words to the prophet Samuel as a new king for Israel was chosen, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
In the New Testament. Jesus calls attention to the unseen part of a man’s life.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” We begin to get the idea as to what God focuses on the most!
With all this talk of trees, I began to ask the practical question, why do trees get hollow in the first place?
According to North Carolina State University “Hollow trees result from a tree injury. Fungi cause wood decay and insects assist with wood removal. Growth continues to occur on the outer part of the trunk. Traditionally, homeowners have attempted to clean decay from the cavity and to add a material, such as concrete, to fill the empty space. Cavity treatment is an exacting process that if done incorrectly can shorten the life of the tree.
Benefits from filling the cavity are questionable at best. Since the fill material will expand and contract at a different rate than tree wood it can create problems of its own.
The strength of a hollow tree comes from the new wood produced after the injury, not from material used to fill a cavity.”
The apostle Paul has given us the remedy for what’s needed on the inside, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”
John H. Morgan writes “Our life in Christ can be compared to an aqueduct, the stone waterways that brought water from nearby mountains into parched cities in Italy and Spain, and that are still used in some countries today.
The objective foundation of our spiritual lives, the Word of God, is like the huge stone aqueduct itself. The subjective elements, our daily experience of Christ, is like the fresh water flowing through it. Some Christians neglect the Word and seek only the subjective experience. But without the solid Word of God to contain and channel that experience, the experience itself drains away into error and is lost. Other Christians boast well-engineered aqueducts based on extensive knowledge of the Bible, but they are bone dry. Strong spiritual lives require both a strong knowledge of the Word of God and an intimate daily relationship with Christ.”
Looking good spiritually is one thing, and I do believe that when others view our lives they should see a truly genuine Christ follower, but the genuineness of who we are to be is first and foremost because of what is in our heart.
Just as Jesus saw those around him, he sees us.
Just as Jesus knew those around him, he knows us. Just as Jesus filled those who desired His fullness then, He can fill us today.
Joseph Stowell, in his book “Fan the Flame,” writes “The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him!”
When the tree of our lives has fallen, (and it will someday!), when our life is over, then the reality of what’s on the inside will become wonderfully or painfully apparent.
My prayer is that we may we truly be at our core the wonderful image of who He is and who He has planned for us to be.
Not just looking good, but being good!

Tim Throckmorton is the national director of Family Resource Council’s Community Impact Teams.

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