in december, my friend jamie and i went to wine & design in raleigh. i was so excited when i saw this tree on their calendar. even though this date very clearly stated that it was “full,” i called and told the girl on the phone that i had to paint that tree, that i had been wanting to paint it for a while. and i may or may not have thrown in there that i was moving in a few days. yep, that’s how bad i wanted it. i was playing the sympathy card. thankfully, she let me finagle two more seats in. when she and i were almost finished, she commented that mine looked sort of like an olive tree. we actually both had no idea at the time what an olive tree looked like, but i think the black circle-ovals on the limbs encouraged her to say that.
i knew olive trees were important, and i remembered reading about them in the bible. but i couldn’t tell ya the significance. so i did some homework so that i could proudly proclaim this new wall art to be an olive tree.
the Hebrew word for “olive tree” is es shemen, which means “tree of oil.” it is from a primitive root meaning “to shine.” it means “richness, anointing, fat, fruitful, oil, ointment, olive.” related to shemesh, “to be brilliant,” which is also the Hebrew word for sun. they produce fruit well into their old age, and continue to increase in circumference each year. if the trunk is cut down, the shoots from the root continue to grow, allowing for continued existence.
olives are crushed, beaten, bruised, and stomped on to produce oil. in biblical times, the beaten oil was used to light the lamp of the Tabernacle (exodus 27:20, leviticus 24:2) and as key player in rich feasts. it was also used to anoint those favored by God (1 sam. 1:10, 1 kings 1:39, 2 kings 9:1, 6). [mystery of the olive tree]
just as olives beaten and bruised, followers of jesus are persecuted and endure suffering. but with each, fruit is produced. so many times i’ve sat in bewilderment during a trial wondering, “why is this happening? why am i getting blamed? what have i done to deserve this?” it’s only after stepping away from the scene that i can see that that, too, was for my good and His glory. we are to model our lives after jesus and love the way that he loved, not placing anyone above another. to become more like jesus, we must endure the suffering that he did. hopefully not crucifixion! but if so, glory to God. the blame, the deceit, the anger, the hurt, all of it molds us to be like-minded. the good news is – God will never abandon us during these trials! and don’t forget, the root of the word means “to shine.” this beating and bruising we endure as we stand tall and proud for Him will allow us to shine for Him. this is just one moment, one day, and He is greater.
2 corinthians 4:7 – 9 says, “but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
just like that little olive. the good news is, God always wins.