Surrounding the Next Generation
When my sister came to stay with me while I recovered from foot surgery I suggested that we spend one afternoon visiting the site where what is called "The Columbus White Oak" once stood. An engraved plaque sits in front of the remains of the base of the tree disclosing the dates of its life: "Circa 1482 - 1999." A poem is also inscribed on the plaque: "For years it graced this land...Majestically it touched the sky...A testament to nature's good. For once a tree in this place stood."
It had been a few years since I visited the Columbus White Oak site in Solebury Township. I was excited to see it so I could find out if the acorn from the Columbus Oak that had been planted in 2008 in the heart of the rotted tree base had grown. In 2009 the acorn had sprouted and produced a seedling oak that was about 30" tall, with a trunk about the width of one of my fingers. The seedling had been covered with a metal, mesh screen to keep predators away from it. I wondered if the seedling was still alive and, if so, what it looked like.
My heart jumped for joy as we drove up to the site of the Columbus White Oak. The seedling had not only grown but it appears to be thriving. It is now a small tree, about five feet tall, with multiple branches that are covered in the dried leaves of a White Oak. The huge root system of the original tree still surrounds its offspring to nurture and protect it. The little tree of promise is firmly rooted in the soil of its parent plant and is growing with the help of the sun and the rains from heaven.
The Lord reminded me that the next generation will root in the ground that we prepare for it. The soil that we leave has a direct impact on the way they grow. The Lord is a generational God who wants to see increase in subsequent generations. The Church has a responsibility as the "parent" to prepare a rich soil for them. It may mean that we must die to self, but our call is clear. The Psalmist articulates our responsibility: "...We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done." (Psalm 78:4) "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself." (Psalm 89:1-2)
The protection and nutrition for the small White Oak has several dimensions. Likewise, the next human generation: Family and the Church have a responsibility. Of course, the Lord is always watching over the children to provide what they need to grow into their full potential. A great picture of God's intervention for His children is painted in the words of Deuteronomy 32:10. "In the desert land He found him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye."
What are we doing to prepare the soil for the next generation? Are we ready to protect and guide the children that mean so much to the Lord that He told His disciples, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these?" (Matthew 19:14) Psalm 125:2 says, "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore." Are we encircling the next generation with the full armor of God, as talked about in Ephesians 6, so that they grow strong and reach the destiny God has ordained for them? Let's surround them and help them to grow in "wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52) just like Jesus did.
Joan E. Mathias