“One stroke fells not an oak.”

George Herbert

Seventeenth century English poet George Herbert collected sayings. This one makes me think of several things:

  1. Perhaps the most obvious way to take the saying is that you shouldn’t give up too easily. It takes more than one swing of an axe to fell an oak. Persistent effort–even with a relatively small tool–can bring down a mighty tree. But maybe there’s more here?
  2. If you seek to be an oak–you can’t fall down easily. These trees are known for their resiliency. If we’re too easily offended, too easily discouraged, or tend to struggle too long to get back on our feet after adversity then we’re not an oak…yet.
  3. Oak trees don’t grow overnight. We want to skip to the part where we’re awesome. We grow impatient with the fact that it took years for resilient people to become hearty. For now, we can work on becoming who we want to be by disciplined daily practices that strengthen our resolve over time.
  4. An oak doesn’t grow on its own. It’s sustained by the soil, the wind, the rain, and the sun–all of which are supplied by Almighty Providence. This isn’t a post about self-sufficient resilience–but faithful dependence on the One who makes weak things strong.