Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways your ways, declares the Lord.”
On a beautiful fall evening in Kansas City, MO, we decided to build a fire in our backyard, so for the past two hours I have been sitting by the fire, worshipping with songs, prayers and the meditation of my heart. Now, my mind turns to the fire itself, the logs that were once so strong, thick and effervescent, now embers blazing in the base of the fire pit. As I look at the fire, meditate on the wood and the embers, the Lord speaks to me and says, “Oaks of righteousness become embers of glory.”
You see when we first get saved we are like twigs or paper, that when a match hits them they create a flame that people love to ooh and ahh over. Many of us started our Christian walk on fire for God, while some would criticize you for not having that youthful zeal anymore, the Lord would say, everyone is invited to grow out of that, into an oak of righteousness. Oaks of righteousness are people that are planted, people that grow, people that are steady, people that are mature. Oaks of righteousness have weathered the storms of life and they are still standing, they have linked root systems with other oaks underground in order to stand when others fell. They are a group of strong, stable, reliable believers who do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6:8).
So, as oaks of righteousness one would think this is the final destination, we just as Ephesians 6 says, stand and keep on standing, but God. Only God, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, whose ways are higher than our ways, who is the master teacher, the great builder, the lover of our souls, only this God, would take oaks of righteousness and invite them into the fire. Cutting them down, separating them from their community, isolating them, so they can be put in the fire, piece by piece, log by log. Because these are large trees, strong trees, powerful trees, the time in the fire is longer than when they were a twig, the fire blazes upon first arrival in the fire, because the bark is burning, but once the bark is burnt the cracking begins. The once strong tree is now beginning to feel the heat of the fire, it is cracking on the inside, smoke is coming forth and it is beginning to crackle, snap and pop. But in the fire they stay, despite the smoke signal rising from their insides begging to be removed.
Some have been taken out, some are on the side now, charred, because they did not like the burning, the heat, the flames, but those who stay the course, who maintain life in the fire, who don’t jump out, they enter a slow burn. People are no longer oohing and aahing over them, most have walked away, just to let the wood burn down, but for the oak of righteousness one of the most radical transformations is taking place. What used to be strong and prided itself on righteousness is now an ember. An ember of intense heat, that thrives on new oaks who enter the fire, for the embers set everything on fire that it touches, bright in color, intense in heat, and surrounded by other embers.
The oak of righteousness now becomes an ember of glory. A glory that burns all day long, that no longer needs anything but wind or breath to set it ablaze, embers that are pure fire, pure heat, pure love, pure truth, pure grace. Oaks of righteousness that used to stand to tall, now embers of glory that set others on fire, to the naked eye it looks like a demotion, but to those with ears to hear, this is the greatest promotion that oaks of righteousness could have ever been given, for they went from oaks of righteousness to become embers of glory