GOD & TEXAS: The Secret Tree
As a boy living with my parents in South Texas, I recall us occasionally driving out to the countryside for a day trip. There were no Buc-ee’s around, so when lunch time came we looked for a large tree by the side of the road to drive under and have our picnic. Great memories.
Texas is known for many varieties of trees. You may know about our native trees like pecan, hackberry, live oak, sycamore, and mesquite. But have you heard of our Montezuma baldcypress, rusty blackhaw, Eve's-Necklace, huisache, loblolly pine, catalpa, and the prairie flameleaf sumac?
Amazingly, there are over 50 varieties of oak trees in the Lone Star state, and some have become living legends. In Austin there is an area known as “Council Oaks.” Only one tree remains of this historic area, and it is known as “The Treaty Oak.” Long before settlers came to Texas, the Native Americans met under this tree to convene war councils and to celebrate religious ceremonies. Lovers met at the tree to make plans for a life together. Later, it is said that the father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, met under this tree in the 1820s to make a treaty and establish boundary lines with the local Indians.
Perhaps you have heard of the “Heart O’Texas Oak”? Nothing historic was ever known to occur around this tree. It just grew up on Ranch Road 1028 near the town of Mercury. Why is it popular? It is said to be located at the exact geographical center of the State of Texas. People drive from all over to stand underneath it. Have you?
And then there is the old “Wedding Oak” of San Saba. Before Moses Austin came to Texas, this romantic oak was used by the Native Americans to celebrate romantic unions. As time passed, this same tree became known as the “Marriage Oak,” or the “Matrimonial Altar” for generations of immigrant Texans. Even today, you will find couples who were married under the “Wedding Oak.”
And then there's the “Secret Oak” tree near Nacogdoches. When the early settlers came to Texas in 1832, they soon discovered that being a Protestant was against the law. If settlers were discovered having worship services that were not approved by the Catholic church, they were run out of the country or possibly killed. So, the pioneers found an old oak tree outside of town and secretly met there for services. Once independence from Mexico was won, the first official Baptist sermon was preached under the canopy of this great tree. Now the Old North Church stands near the “Secret Oak Tree” that is very well known.
But there is a tree that is greater than all the trees of Texas. It stood on Mount Calvary and held the only Son of God. Jesus was crucified on that tree, and it provides life and liberty even to this day. As the Scripture says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.' (Galatians 3:13 ESV). "The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree” (Acts 5:30 ESV).
Yes, Jesus gave His life for us on that old rugged cross. I am so grateful that it is not a secret tree.
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