We are the Oaks. I love that I married into such a strong, beautiful last name (not to mention short and easy to pronounce, I won’t even try to tell you what my maiden name was. Let’s just say it was 2-3 syllables, had 4 vowels, and was very German). It’s currently trendy to name children unique or catchy names without much regard for what they “mean.” I think some Christians even think it’s superstitious to put too much thought into the meaning of names – as if attempting to direct your child’s character with a Biblical name is akin to voodoo. But that’s all beside the point because we’re talking about a surname here, not a given name. My point is that I think names still carry meaning, and my married surname is a beautiful picture of what we want our family to be: fruitful, lasting, and strong. We want to have roots like oaks.
If you know anything about tree anatomy, you’ll know that the root system is the plant’s life-source. Trees are made up of underground roots, a trunk of vascular tissue called xylem and phloem (I just lost you with my biology terms didn’t I?), which transport nutrients to and from the roots, and branches containing the leaves and fruit. Obviously, the trunk and the branches are the parts you can see, but the roots are most important for keeping the tree alive. The Bible mentions roots in a variety of contexts, all of which are applicable to our lives.
Since the root is the literal source of life for a tree, it is likened to the heart of a person. Our hearts are both a literal source of life and a spiritual/emotional source. Jesus uses this analogy in Luke 6:
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
We want to bear good spiritual fruit in our lives as Christians and to do this we must be firmly rooted in Christ. The well-spring from which we receive all essential water and nutrients for growth is in Christ. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He also said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus must be the root of our lives and our family from which all life springs, so that we may bear fruit to his glory.
There is also a familial application in the Bible where a root is spoken of as the beginning of a family tree.
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
Fantastically, this Old Testament prophecy is talking about Jesus. But it is also talking about Jesse’s literal family line because his son becomes King David and the Messiah is eventually born through his line. Another prophecy of Isaiah says:
In days to come Jacob shall take root,
Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots
and fill the whole world with fruit.
We hope in the future to bear children who will be a blessing and a heritage of the Lord (Ps 127:3). We hope that our Oak roots will bear the blessing of this lasting familial fruit.
Which brings me to the last application: trees with deep roots in good soil are lasting and strong. Proverbs 12:3 says “No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.” Have you ever tried to pull up an oak tree by the roots? If so, you likely did not get very far. The firmness of a good root system creates lasting stability. This is what we want for our lives and our family. In the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, only the seeds that put down roots in good soil survive to produce fruit. We pray that we are neither plucked up by the enemy, nor choked out by thorny cares of the world, nor withered by weak roots in rocky soil. May we have deep, firm roots like oaks.
Again, we must remember that Christ is the one who supports us (Rom 11:18). Christ is the root, the descendent of David, the bright morning star (Rev 22:16). And He, and only He, is the one who fulfills this prophecy to make it possible:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.