Monday, September 1, 2008

Sink or Swim

So we have this little Evergreen Pear Tree in our front yard, which is neither evergreen nor does it produce pears. We've had it since shortly after we moved into our house nine years ago. Fully mature it will only be about twenty feet tall, so the growth has been excruciatingly slow, but, as you can see, it’s hanging in there.

In my desert town where we rarely see a good rain, we have been surprisingly hit with a couple of wild storms in the last week or so. The strength of the wind was said to be so high that it was considered hurricane strength. The storm the other night blew through so hard that as I peeked out the front window I saw our city garbage can topple over (thank goodness it was empty) and watch the wind and rain carry it down the street.

I also watched as our humble, little tree was stretched beyond what I thought it could bear. Its slender trunk bent against the harsh wind, but in the morning it was still intact, upright and proud.

Later that morning I drove to the grocery store and saw all around the surrounding areas trees that were much larger than ours that had either broken off right at the trunk or had been uprooted altogether. And I wondered at how our little tree had been able to survive. And I think the answers can give us some insight as to how we can weather the storms of life, too, rather than becoming casualties of them.

The first thing I noticed was that most of the trees that had been uprooted had shallow root systems. What we could see above ground was beautiful, but the roots had not grown deep and the storm had been able to fell them easily.

Likewise, to look only at the surface of our lives to determine our spiritual health could be deceiving. The health is in the roots. Are the roots of your relationship with Christ only superficial or do they run deep and strong?

Trees’ roots grow deep when two things have occurred:

1. When there has been sufficient deep watering.

For us that means the watering of our souls through spending meaningful time studying God’s word and in intimate prayer time so that God can purify our hearts with His truth.

“..just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25a-27)

2. When storms have tossed a tree and caused the roots to dig in deeper for survival.

You know what that means. The storms of life have a purpose. And in order for our faith to be strengthened we will have to go through them. Our hope can only be in Christ alone and trials have a way of weeding out any false hope we have erroneously placed in anything or anyone else.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

When James says that we will be “perfect,” it means mature or complete.

If my little tree had succumbed to the storm, it would not have been able to grow to maturity. But it has experienced smaller storms and so it was prepared with the strength it needed to weather this bigger storm. So we are strengthened by each subsequent trial and the strength of our faith grows and prepares us for the next.

The second thing I noticed that allowed my tree to survive was that the direction of the wind was coming from the opposite side of the house and because the house is bigger than the tree, it was able to buffer the tree against the wind.

I don’t know about you, but I have this terrible tendency when hard times come to want to hide, even from God. But when we take shelter in the Lord when trials and tribulations are raining down on us, He is able to be our Protector, our Shield and our Shelter in the storms. He provides us with comfort, wisdom, love and His peace that surpasses all understanding.

“And he said, ‘Jehovah is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer. The God who is my Rock, in Him will I trust. He is my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower, and my Refuge, my Savior. You save me from violence.’” 2 Samuel 22:2-3

There is no sign that trials will let up anytime in the future. And I suspect that the closer that we get to the Lord’s return, the harder and faster those trials will come. And the enemy of God would love nothing more than to weaken our faith and cause us to become of little or no use to the Lord. So snuggle up to the Lord. Hide beneath the shadow of His wings and He will carry you. Dig into His word so that the roots of your faith will burrow deeply and nothing will be able uproot you.

If we will focus our eyes on Jesus instead of the storms, not only will we not succumb to them, but we will walk on the waves of the storms with Him in victory.

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Thanks for sharing!