Flanking our clubhouse entry sidewalk stand two oak trees. Oak trees have a unique characteristic that sets them apart from the other deciduous trees in our area.
In fall, we enjoy the changing colour of leaves, but we know they will shortly turn brown and fall off. All the trees follow that set pattern every year, except the oak tree. Their leaves turn a brilliant colour, then turn brown but the leaves do not fall off. They cling to the branches all through the long winter months inspite of storms and strong winds.
But then in spring a wonderful thing happens. As the new leaves begin to push their way out in fresh growth responding to awakened life in the tree, the old dead leaves are forced to give way to the new and one by one they fall off.
What a wonderful spiritual lesson for us to see and learn.
Believers, in scripture, are compared to a tree "planted by the rivers of water" - Jer. 17:8 - our leaves are not to be withered but they are to stay green even in times of drought.
But wait ... most of us turn to the Lord at a time in our lives when we have come to the end of ourselves - when we are in trouble, finally aware of our failings and sinfulness and our need of a Saviour. We come already a 'tree' with brown, dead leaves.
We eagerly embrace the life giving promise of hope in 2Co_5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Promised new life has sprung up with us and we look forward to walking in that life.
Then, oft to our disappointment, the 'old dead leaves' don't just fall off, but they cling to us , old habits, sinful thoughts and ways. Our actions and reactions don't always look any different, and others looking at us do not see the new life we know we have tasted of. The more we try to rid ourselves of the 'leaves' of our old life, the more they seem to cling to us.
So what do we need to do ?
What is the secret of the oak tree ? Can it get rid of its old dead leaves? No, they cling, they remain ..... until when ?? When the new growth pushes them off the branches !
Too often our focus is on overcoming our 'sinful habits'... we focus on the things we want to change in our character or life and though we struggle valiantly, nothing changes.
But if we, like the oak tree, focused on what we wish to be - focus on the character traits we desire, the 'fruit' of the Spirit we wish to grow on our branches .... then, the old just falls off because there is no longer any room for it.
The 'old' has to fall off, when we 'put on the new' .... as we are taught in Eph. 4:21-24
......This truth is in Jesus:
that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
and that you put on the new man which was created according to God,
in true righteousness and holiness.
thereby putting off , concerning your former conduct,
the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.