We recently renamed our women’s ministry to be called ‘Flourish.’ It is a declaration over the women in our Church, both as individuals and as a collective, that as their lives are planted in His household, in His presence, that they will flourish – grow in a healthy or vigorous way. Flourish can also mean to thrive, to be in our prime or at the height of excellence or influence; to decorate or embellish lines of writing. It is a word of beauty, of strength, of forward momentum and growth.
It was also the declaration of David in psalm 52. When he penned this particular psalm, he had been forced to leave his new wife, his friend, the comfort and provision of the palace; his own life and future was at risk and his actions had cost other innocent people their lives. It is in this context that David makes this statement, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the House of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I want you to note that his statement is not one of future hope, but of current reality. I AM like…
The word David used for flourish is a Hebrew word – ra’anan – which means to be or grow luxuriantly, fresh, or green.It’s a picture of rich growth, of lush growth. David is not making a statement of survival. It is a statement of thriving – even in the midst of incredible adversity and suffering. In comparing himself to an olive tree, he was drawing a parallel filled with some rich imagery and truths that we will unpack over the coming weeks.
Olive trees are quite extraordinary – they can grow in almost any condition – terraced hills, valleys, rocky or fertile soil – and are known for their tenacity. The root system of olive trees is so robust, that it is capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. They are virtually indestructible – even if you cut them down or burn them, new shoots will grow from the roots. In fact, it was an olive leaf that was brought back to Noah following the flood! Even in a drought the olive tree can still live and grow, because it has the ability to draw oil out of the rocks. What a beautiful image – because of the Rock that is Christ, we too now have access to the oil of the Holy Spirit in any and all seasons.
Oil speaks of anointing & healing, but it also speaks of provision and sustenance. We need to be people who like the olive tree, have a robust root system that allows us to draw on the anointing, the healing, the provision and sustenance that only the Holy Spirit can provide. If we are dependent on external factors as our source of growth and fruitfulness, then we will not have the tenacity, the depth that is required to flourish.
So often we put off flourishing, thinking one day when…but David was a man who understood his ability to grow and thrive was not dependent on external factors, but the internal position of his heart. We don’t always get to pick our soil, and life finds us on some mountain tops and in some low valleys. But if our real planting is in the presence of God, in intimacy with Him, then we will find ourselves still able to flourish – still able to grow and produce fruit despite our physical surroundings.
May flourishing become your current reality and not just a future hope.
You are blessed to be a blessing, Aimee x
P.S. If you would like to hear more about what enabled David to make this statement of current reality you can listen to my teaching session ‘Flourishing like the olive tree…growing in rocky ground’ here. Please note that these are casual & interactive teaching sessions :)