A break. A chance to pause before..well, before it all begins again.
John needed to do a site inspection for a future conference. I could go with him–all the way to Jacksonville, Florida.
So it wasn’t exotic or out-of-the-ordinary.
But it was the two of us. And I was grateful.
We talked to wonderful representatives from the hotel we stayed at. We needed to explore what was available for places where people could go for meals and opportunities for connecting.
We’ve been to Jacksonville before. Debbie attended Jacksonville University her first year of college.
Hadn’t seen what we needed to see.
One of the most surprising places was where a two-hundred-year-old tree had been protected for posterity.
It was a massive southern live oak named the Treaty Oak. The name was given by a journalist who claimed a treaty had been signed by local tribes and early settlers. It was his effort to save the tree from developers.
He wasn’t truthful; no treaty had ever been forged there.
A great effort to save a great tree.
Though the fictional account kept it safe for awhile, it was the generosity of people in Jacksonville that has kept it protected. In 1964, Jessie Ball duPont, working alongside others, kept the developers at bay.
Over seventy feet tall with a trunk measuring 25 feet in circumference, it’s massive with huge branches that spread out like the arms of a mythical creature. Embracing everything around it.
It felt like a home I’ve never seen. A place of belonging for so many creatures.
Age has taken its toll. Branches that hung low were supported by structures so they wouldn’t break. Some drag on the ground with heaviness and possibly a little fatigue.
Signs are posted that ask folks not to climb on the tree.
Like most of life, those signs were mostly ignored as adults tried walking up the thick limbs.
But it survives. Thrives.
Things that are tried and tested are useful. Reliable. No matter how old the item–or person–may be.
When Jesus came on the scene, He didn’t get rid of what had come before. The Law, which God gave to Moses, had great value. Jesus didn’t come to abolish any of it.
He came to fulfill it.
The Law spoke of living righteously by doing things in a manner that valued people. Being perfect not just in actions, but in words and attitudes as well.
A holy God requires people in relationship with Him to be holy.
We can’t do that. We’re all broken and prone to hearts that want to do their own thing.
Jesus fulfilled the Law by being the perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice for the wrongs done by people. All people. No matter what the wrong.
The value of the Law was how it pointed people to live in harmony with others and God.
The value of Jesus was He satisfied the Law completely. Permanently.
What He did can’t be improved. Added to. Subtracted from.
Like that old tree, the reliability of Jesus’ gift to us is His lasting presence.
Which will survive much longer than that old tree.
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