The Parable Of The Oak That Drew Sustenance From The Elements

“Here I am,” said a man, “getting along past the meridian of life, and have nothing to show for my efforts.

“All these years I have striven to give a true account of myself before God and my fellow man, and have failed. Having had the best preparation in college and professional school that money will buy, and having had ample opportunity to show my ability in at least three different lines of work, here I am left stranded high and dry, like a miserable piece of flotsam on life’s wide sea. There seems to be no work for which I am adapted.”

“Sit on the bench beside me,” said his friend, “and look at this giant oak before us. See how it drinks through its leaves the same air that the little plum drinks in yonder. It draws nourishment through its roots from the same soil. The same rain blesses them with its showers, and the same sun shines its benediction down upon them both. From all these elements in nature the oak draws suste­nance, just as does the plum. And yet the oak does not become a plum, nor the plum an oak. Each is governed by the inner law of its own being, which takes from each element exactly that which its own peculiar nature and genus demand, and rejects that which it cannot use. Look carefully, friend, at the oak. It is especially like unto you, for it, too, is late in arriving.

“You cannot, by taking thought, add one inch to your stature. But you can by being true to the law of your own being–even as the tree gives itself to the air and the sunshine in perfect trust to the great Father who governs all things, both the lilies and you-draw unto yourself exactly the opportunities, the environment, the friends that you need, and your success will be measured only by the dreams and desires which are rooted within your own integrated, unified self.

And the friend walked away, but the man still sat there and stared at the oak, until it became no longer a fancy or a dream but a living fact that the law which governed the oak also gov­erned him, and that which was his could not ever escape him, and that which was not his could never really belong to him.

And days went on and a great quietness came into his soul. He could not understand it, because always before he had been unrestful at heart. Neither could his wife understand it, nor his friends. And then one day a man came to him with a wonderful offer which became the door to a career of true usefulness and happiness. And how and why it came he knew not, neither did his friends, nor did he ever meet anyone who could tell him. But as he passed the oak tree one day, he suddenly knew why it had come to him. For he knew that within the oak there was a power which was continually creating that which its inner nature craved from the silent elements without. And great calmness henceforth stayed with that man, a calmness that to others seemed colossal when those about him seemed lost in inconsequential things.

Now let your roots sink deep and take in the nourishment God has for you. Psalm 1.


Clark, Glen, “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes”, Harper & Row Publishing, NY, 1937, p173-174.

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