Lessons from Trees
"Whoever comes to Me [Jesus], and hears My sayings and does them…is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."1
Ravi Zacharias tells how when he and his family lived in "England some years ago a terrible windstorm hit much of the country. Amazingly, thousands of trees were felled in one night. Some days later we were walking outside Buckingham Palace and my wife noticed something very significant. While the trees themselves were huge and very tall, their roots were unbelievably shallow. We marveled at this seemingly inexplicable disproportion." The reason was that the water level was close to the surface and the roots didn't have to go deep to get their nourishment.
I have seen a similar thing happen in Southern California where many Australian gum or eucalyptus trees are grown. As this area is converted desert, all or many of these trees are watered by a drip or sprinkler system. Because the water is close to the surface, many of these trees don't have a deep root system either and I have seen many of them fall in a wild windstorm after the ground was waterlogged.
Very different to gum trees growing up in the dry parts of Australia where they are forced to drive their roots down deep in order to survive. Their branches get broken in storms but rarely do any of the trees fall.
Furthermore, when I lived in South Australia at the top of the Adelaide hills where the winds blow furiously, I was advised to plant my trees while they were still small and not to stake them too tightly. They needed the freedom to bend and sway with the wind as this helped them develop a deep root system from their beginning in order to strengthen them when they had fully grown.
Or take the mighty redwood trees—magnificent trees that grow in Northern California and reach their leafy arms toward heaven—some of which were growing when Jesus walked on earth! Normally they receive good rains and have a sufficient water supply. These giants of the forest also have a very shallow root system but as they grow in groves, all their roots are intertwined so when the wild winds blow and the storms rage, they hang on to each other and hold each other up.
The same is true of us. In order to survive the storms of life we need to develop a deep root system that is anchored solidly in our faith in God—the One in whom we trust implicitly. And like the mighty redwoods, if we want to grow strong and healthy, we need the support of one another, for none of us can make it alone and weren't created to do so. As God's Word also says "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You for Your Word and its instructions for life. Help me to live by these principles so that I will have deep roots built on a solid foundation and can say with the hymn writer, 'On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.' Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Luke 6:47-49 (NKJV).
2. Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV).