Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stand Tall in 2012

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.  Psalm 1:3
For almost a year now, I have studied the intricacies of trees, the balance of branches with the depth of the root system, and what elements could topple a tree. The Bible speaks of trees in hundreds of ways and even cites the complex systems that govern the way a tree grows and is used. A fascinating study! One that may become its own book one day - if God desires.

The two verses below vividly describe the nature of man without God (first verse) and the nature of man given over to God's Spirit (the second verse). 

Which verse describes you at the culmination of 2011?

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted. -Jude 11-13

For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. -Jeremiah 17:7-9

A few weeks ago, Dr. Catherine Hart-Weber, wrote of her own musings about trees from a very personal experience. I share this article with you and pray that it will enlighten you, strengthen you, and challenge you to ask God to take your spiritual roots deeper in Him in 2012!

Five Ways To Grow Deeper Roots for Stability During Storms
Dr. Catherine Hart-Weber

  The foothill village where I live in the Los Angeles area was recently pummeled with Hurricane 2 category winds that left us in a state of emergency. I was out of town when it happened, but as I drove in two days later, the evidence was everywhere.

     Piles of palm fauns, stacks of severed tree limbs, mounds of leaves and debris line the streets. Large trees that withstood years of droughts and gales were toppled, falling in the roads, on homes and cars.  Most of the leaves on the shrubs around my yard are gone. Just sticks.

     As I write this blog, it is day 6 and we still don't have electricity. The nights are dark and very cold. You would laugh if you saw what I've been wearing to bed!  There are large chunks off the roof, and the chimney is falling down. But we are safe, the lights will eventually come on again and damage to the home is repairable.

People are like trees

     The impact for me has been the upheaval to the birds (I have 8 bird feeders), the injury to plant life and the loss of limbs and the life of trees that appeared secure and stable for years. I heard birds chirp again today, so they are finding their way back to the new terrain. It has changed the skyline looking down over the city and the familiar enfolding of surrounding nature.

Why did some trees and palms topple, and others are still standing? One news article suggests that the fallen were 'top heavy'. Some trees were so heavy they were able to lift chunks of concrete sidewalk up as they fell. Speculation is that the root systems weren't deep and strong enough. Sprinkler watering kept the roots shallow, from having to go deep. They weren't balanced.

Be balanced with roots and fruits

In the Bible, trees are symbolic for people.
Roots going deep in the ground represent our inner soul and spirit life in Christ, His love, Word and Spirit.

Metaphorically, I identify with the trees.
We can also become shallow in our inner soul and spirit life and too 'top heavy' with going - going, doing - doing. On the outside we can appear to have a lot going on, but inside, we don't have the depth that comes from going deep in the things of God - where we ultimately get our nourishment and strength.
          The Lord always calls us back to a balance of serving and solitude - of contemplation and action.

Be rooted and grounded in trusting Christ

       So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
       When the storms of life strike and batter us around, we are going to loose limbs, leaves and suffer losses that can't be avoided. But this recent crisis is a reminder that we must stay balanced with what we do and how we live on the outside, with becoming deeper and more mature and stable on the inside so we can better withstand the hardships in life.
       It's during the difficult times that we pray our most heartfelt prayers and we grow deeper in our character and relationship with Christ.

Be rooted and grounded in God's Love

      And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love ...that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
      Believe in God's absolute unconditional love for you, so that it transforms your attitudes - your whole approach to life. Think constantly about the Father's incredible love for you. Set time aside each day to deliberately affirm God's love for you. Feel His love present in your entire being - here and now.

Be deeply rooted in God's Word

      Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:5-8

      At a Joni Eareckson Tada event recently Joni shared that during some of her hardest times as a quadriplegic and being bedridden, what got her through was - "Being in the Word".  Let your inner being - heart and soul (roots) go down deep into the word of God and His loving Spirit. 

Be deeply rooted in community

Those that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:13

            I have heard it said of the giant redwood trees that the real secret to their beauty and strength is their root system. They go down deep and intermingle and connect with other strong roots around them. This forms a network that strengthens their life source.

When you are connecting on a deep heart and soul level with other Spiritual friends in community, you will be strengthened during hard times.

            The lights will be back on soon, and life will be as usual. In the meantime, ponder with me about depth and balance we can learn from the fallen trees.   

What helps you be a 'deep person', becoming strong, able make it through the storms of life? You can leave your response here.