My dear wife Yvonne is doing a guest post for me. She is a great speaker and deeply spiritual. On October 16, 2011 Yvonne met in Bacau, Romania, with women from various churches in the region. It was such an inspiring time of fellowship! Her notes are printed below.
Why I Want to be Like an Olive Tree
Yvonne Johns Oct 2011
I was reading Psalm 52 when something jumped out at me. The first 4 verses describe the wicked who ‘love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking truth.’ Verses 5-7 tell what happens to the wicked ones and then verses 8 & 9 talk about the Godly person. It was verse 8 that caught my attention. ‘I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.’ What is so good about an olive tree that the psalmist compared himself to one? I needed to do a little research and here is what I came up with.
Olive trees were grown in Biblical times and the olives used as food. They are very nutritious and good for you. The oil was used in their lamps to give light, not only in their homes but in the temple as well and to anoint their kings and priests. The leaves of the olive tree were a symbol of abundance, wisdom, purity and peace. When Noah sent the dove out from the ark, she brought back an olive leaf and Noah knew there was enough dry land for them to leave the ark.
The tree itself is still considered sacred in Greece. Each one is owned by someone and rarely are they cut down. An olive tree provides income to the owner and, as they are precious they are well taken care of to ensure that they keep producing well. Each tree can live to be 1000 years old, (they get gnarled and bent as they get older) up to 6 m around but not usually very tall. (Those are some ways I really don’t want to be like an olive tree!) The leaves stay green all year so give welcome shade and the tree continues to be productive and useful all its life if it is properly pruned and cared for. They like hot weather, like to live near the water, are hardy and drought and fire resistant because of their very hard wood.
Doug and I were in Greece recently and were fortunate enough to visit Olympia where the Olympic games originated. There were olive groves all around with their beautiful, silvery green leaves. Each tree grows differently and has its own unique character. They still use olive oil to light the original Olympic flame which is then taken to Athens to start the modern games. The Olympic flame is the symbol of the nations coming together peacefully to enjoy healthy competition. (Well, that is the intent.) We saw the stadium where 40,000 people would gather to watch the games, where the olive oil was used to anoint the athletes and the leaves from nearby trees made the victory crowns. It was such a thrill to be right there where it all started. It has been tradition in our family since our children were little that we would watch the games together. They are still carrying on that tradition with their own children.
Back in Katakolon, I found a little shop that held everything you could possibly think of made of olive wood. There were beautiful plates, salad bowls, candle holders, picture frames, decorative boxes and jewellery and so much more. I learned that the darker the grain is, the older the tree is, that the pattern of the grain tells where on the tree the wood was found, that they only use pruned branches to make these items and since the wood is so hard it is perfect for kitchen items such as cutting boards. To keep the wooden items looking new, just wipe it with olive oil. That got me thinking and I did some more research.
Here are 10 Things to Do With Olive Oil
1. Wash your face
2. Revitalize wood furniture with 2 parts olive oil to 1 lemon juice on a soft cloth. Keeps wood from drying out and hides nicks and scratches
3. Massage a small amount into scalp to fight flakes and dry skin
4. Soothe sunburn after the first couple of days to prevent peeling
5. Remove makeup
6. Unstick a zipper – only 1 drop needed
7. Prevent hairballs by giving your cat ¼ – ½ teaspoon Keeps coat shiny too
8. Shine your hair by massaging in a few drops. Leave for 1 hour, then shampoo
9. Moisturize dry feet after bath or shower and put on socks to help absorb
10. Moisturize and exfoliate skin with a scrub made up of sugar, enough oil to make a paste and 1 drop of essential oil for soothing scent. Massage into dry skin in shower or bath.
Who knew you benefit so much from the little olive tree? I can see how the psalmist thought it was good to be an olive tree in God’s house. We belong to Him and He takes care of us to make sure we are being productive. Each of us has a unique purpose. Sometimes He prunes us but it is for our good and His. He watches over us because we are precious to Him and He loves us so much. I want to serve Him all my life and I want my life to be a brightly shining lamp showing the way to His kingdom. The last part of verse 8 says, ‘I will trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will wait for your mercies in the presence of your people.’
Doug bought me an olive wood bracelet to remind me of all that I’ve learned about the olive tree. Each piece is different from the others just as we are but the bracelet is a circle and each piece is joined to the others. One piece or even two by themselves would be pretty but would not be a bracelet. When we are working together with other believers, then He can make us into something beautiful and useful for Him. We are all part of one body, His world-wide family of Christians through the ages. I’m so glad to be part of this family with you!
Yvonne Johns Oct 2011