Can I tell you a little secret? Big trees are going to fall. Yep, they have, they do, and they will. There will be extensive damage. Some damage will be immediately visible and some will be buried deep beneath the rubble. Things around the tree will be destroyed in a matter of seconds. The thunderous roar of the fall can be heard all around, but some people will not even take notice. There will be curious onlookers just wanting to see a glimpse of the devastation, there will be some that volunteer to help. You will look at the rubble and wonder if things will ever be the same…and then realize that they will not. But it will be OK.
As the sun faithfully rose in the East, my husband and I stood gazing out the back window and all we could see was an ocean of leaves and limbs. What we heard in the night was not a huge clap of thunder from a storm that was rolling through. What we heard was the crash of a hundred year old tree as it fell to the ground, taking out everything in its path. The screened porch that we were so proud of building last year was crushed. But the main house, our neighbors house, the transformer, and fence were all spared. I loved that old, stately tree; so much history in its branches and so much strength in its trunk. It stood the test of time and weathered many storms much worse than this one. But this was the one that finally took it out. No rhyme or reason, just destruction. Maybe a tree that was overloaded with brand new spring growth but hadn’t quite pushed its roots down far enough to stand firm. Maybe a hundred other reasons that I will never know. But it happened. This beautiful symbol of God’s amazing creative abilities, gone in a matter of seconds.
Cleanup begins – chain saws, tractors, insurance adjusters, friends. All that’s left now is a big hole, and a pile of rubble to be hauled off. It’s over right? Move on, clean up, rebuild, make it look like nothing ever happened. Yes, it’s over. But as I start to gather myself into the reality of a “full sun” yard now instead of a “shade” yard, and an empty space where my beautiful porch once stood, I start to feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit. That still small voice that comes when there is a lesson to be learned. “Kelly, can I teach you something? Will you listen and learn?” I believe God uses unscheduled events that are totally out of the ordinary to teach me things. If I learn from them, then they are not just wasted moments. Interestingly enough, several trees have fallen in my life this week. God is still speaking and I am still trying to listen and learn. It’s not easy, there is some damage that may never be completely cleaned up or rebuilt. But I cling to the promises in God’s word and trust that He is at work.
In John 16:33 He says this, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Big trees certainly fall in our lives. A terrifying diagnosis with little hope, miscarriage, loss of a job, death, natural disaster, accident, broken relationship, bad choices, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes the crash is loud and obvious, sometimes it is mistaken for something else – we thought the falling of our tree was thunder. Sometimes the fall is slow and hardly noticeable until it’s too late. We have all been there haven’t we?
So the inevitable happens…the fall. Jesus said it would. But it always seems to take us by surprise. Now the important question comes. As believers-followers of Jesus Christ-how do we handle the destruction? What is our response in the midst of the trouble? Can we stand strong even when things around us are falling? What does our life look like during and after the fall. Maybe the true answer comes from a better question. What did our life look like before the fall and were we prepared?
We have answers to these questions in God’s word and many of you have examples in your own life and in the lives of others whom you have watched make their way through the debris of a fall. I have watched faithful saints of God walk boldly through an entire forest of fallen trees in their lives and not waver. I have lived through my fair share of fallen trees. Some, I have handled with courage and strong faith. Others, I have collapsed under the pressure and fallen to the ground…not a pretty sight.
I think I have found one of the main keys to all of this.
Our tree; old, tall, established and beautiful would probably not have given in to the mighty wind and rain if its roots had been stronger and deeper. All the new, wonderful growth from the spring would not have outweighed the roots. There would have been a perfect balance between growth and roots that would have held strong for years to come. One of the trunks was hollow. Do you think the roots would have grown deeper had the trunk been filled with layer upon layer of strong, healthy wood? Of course! How can we expect our roots to grow deep if we have not filled our “trunk” the very core of our strength with God’s word, prayer, worship, a body of believers, service, and allowed ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit? We have to be willing to do what it takes to grow strong.
Precious friends, it’s all about the roots.
“He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8 ESV
It matters where we allow ourselves to be planted. Are we by the shallow water? In the fringes of what might be God’s will, close to God’s people but never really plugged in. Are we two-fer Christians. Buy Christmas…Easter thrown in for half price and we are done for the year? Have we set our roots deep into God’s word, sent them wide and deep into His love? Does the anchor or our roots hold firm to the only solid rock in this world, the cornerstone of Jesus? Do we have enough nutrition to stay strong in our beliefs even when a severe drought comes to our soul? Even when God is quiet and the world is screaming in our ear. Can we bear fruit even when everything in our lives seem to be falling to the ground around us? Have we found the Living Water?
Put down roots in the fertile soil. God provides it for us. Scripture feeds our soul, Godly people till the soil and care for us, wonderful pastors provide care and guidance, Holy Spirit carries us through and teaches us even when things don’t make sense, and Jesus provides the way to God. If you want to survive the trouble and the storms, if you want to stand strong even when things are falling all around you, trust in God. Claim the victory that has already been won. Put down deep, deep roots. Deep roots dispel fear.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
I have learned something new today as I write. It is life changing to me and I pray that it helps you as well. I just realized that the roots I am trying to send deep into the fertile soil are not even my roots! I have been adopted as a daughter of the King of Creation. I have been grafted onto the vine that is God. I am just a branch. If I abide in Christ then the roots which hold me firm in the midst of the storm are the roots of Christ, not me. Now, I don’t know about you, but this is exciting to me. I know that I am weak and my ability to put down my own roots and anchor my soul is not something I can have faith in. But, oh sweet friends, my God is able to do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20. Now I can have faith in that! I just realized that my job is to be a great branch and to depend on the roots of my vine to be sufficient for me! I can place my full trust in the fact that nothing will be able to separate me from the vine.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
Look at that again…”rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith”. I just love seeing a verse that I have studied time and time again with fresh eyes and a new perspective and understanding! That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
But I ask the question again. What should we look like as a Christian when we encounter trouble, when big trees fall, when destruction comes?
“That according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19.
The answer – love. But what does love look like? Jesus. Love looks like Jesus. If we are rooted in Christ then we are grounded in love and our faith is strengthened. The more we learn of Christ’s unfathomable love for us, the more we open our souls to accept it, the more He will fill us with it and the more it will pour out through us to others…even in the midst of trouble.
‘We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.” Hebrews 6:19
Who is our anchor? Who is our vine and our roots? Who is our hope? Hebrews tells us. Our steadfast anchor is The One who caused the curtain in the temple to be torn from top to bottom. Our hope is The One who took our hand and led us through the curtain of separation and into the Holy of Holies. He is the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but through Him. John 14:6
Oh my friends, big trees will fall. Trouble will come. But my anchor will hold, my roots are grounded in love, my roots have found the deep water and my faith is strong. My Savior has overcome the world. How about you?
And one final word. The sunrise will come! Maybe when the big tree falls, it allows us to see something that we have been missing. I saw the sunrise from my patio for the very first time! It was beautiful. Peace comes from knowing the sunrise will come. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentation 3:22-23.
There is a sunrise waiting for you even when the dark clouds are still rolling through. Luke 1:78-79 says “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Jesus, the sunrise, is with you. He is your sunrise even when the storms or raging. Do not be afraid or anxious because He is the anchor. His roots are your roots and they will hold firm. When all is falling around you, remember that you are permanently grafted to the vine, adopted by the Creator of the Universe.
If you do not have this anchor for your soul, if you have not accepted Christ as your personal Savior and been grafted onto a new vine as a child of the King, if you have not been taken by the hand and led into the Holy of Holies then I encourage you to take that step. Trees will fall. Find your roots; grab your anchor; claim the promises of God. He loves you.