I crashed headlong into God’s healing process in September 2017, when I was invited to join a healing care group by a good friend who knew my world was falling apart. I had driven my car (metaphorically) off a cliff, and not for the first time. Separated from my wife and soon to be divorced, broken and hurting, a father to three amazing and hurting kids, I couldn’t figure out why I was stuck in the same cycles for years but I desperately wanted answers. To add insult to injury, I am a believer and have been since I accepted Christ at the age of eight – This wasn’t supposed to happen. I should have known better. I was supposed to be grafted into the life-giving vine, but all I was producing was dysfunction. The shame and pain were unbearable.
But here’s the thing – God does not abandon his children, especially when they deserve him least but need him most. His loving presence is strong in the deepest valleys of life. During those dark nights of the soul when hope is just a guttering flame, he is near. “The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one. Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.” (Ps 34:18-19 TPT) . A faithful, tender, and loving God drew near in that darkest hour and made a promise. It was from Isaiah 61:3 (NIV), “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
I felt like anything but an oak tree, the farthest thing from it at that moment in time. It was not a promise unique to me, that verse applies to many, but that tender whisper in the night brought it to life and it became a personal, intimate glimpse of the future. It was the first seed of identity that God planted in this healing process, and I clung to his word. The flame of hope grew stronger. I took a beautiful oak leaf and four perfect acorns with me to the first healing care meeting, a symbol of the promise of the journey and the fruit that would surely come. Here we are three years down the road, and I still have that oak leaf perfectly preserved, pressed into the pages of Isaiah 61. The first seed of identity was memorialized in my heart like an altar built by the Old Testament fathers where they encountered the living God.
God has been true to this word, and many more. He is faithful to lead the broken and humble heart through his process and he will produce in you what he promises both in his written word and in the personal, spoken word. If you find yourself in a broken and painful place today, look for your loving and faithful God to draw near. Let him speak to you, let him fan that flame of hope and plant the seeds of your destiny deep in your spirit. Believe his promises, however bold or fantastic they may seem. Hold on to his word because he is faithful and true. He gives beauty for ashes. He gives freedom to the captive. He gives strength to the weak. He comforts those who mourn. He is in the restoration business. And he grows mighty oak trees.
And that’s the memo.