About 10 years ago while I was visiting my father we took a drive on a country road. He showed me where a recent tornado had touched down. It had left a wide swath of destruction from one side of the road to the other. In front of us, the land looked normal but as far as the eye could see to the east and to the west, the land looked like earthmoving equipment had gone through. All the trees, even the massive ones, lay on their sides with their roots exposed, dangling in the air. I stood in awe at the sight of those trees and marveled at how these huge trees could come unearthed. I wondered if it was the wind that was too strong or were their roots not anchored enough to prevent their upheaval?
It is only with the trees laying on their side, uprooted can the average Joe look and see the quality of their roots system. How deep the roots may go or how far out the roots may expand is only seen underground in the hidden places.
There are many variables that affect the growth of roots. For instance, the condition of the soil, whether it’s hard, soft, compact, rich or poor. As the roots press downward, if the soil is too hard it will shift to a wider expansion. If the soil is more compact, there will be fewer roots but larger ones. The roots are vital for the health of the tree. The roots absorb and transport minerals and water from the soil to the rest of the tree. They also anchor the tree. There is a direct correlation between the quality of the root system and what nutrients the roots are able to get from the soil and the quality of fruit the tree will produce. In other words, the quality of what is unseen affects the quality of what is seen.
So why all this talk of trees? God uses trees as a metaphor in scripture. Jeremiah 17:7, 8 says, “...but blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He is like a tree planted by the waters that sends out its roots toward the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes, and its leaves are always green. It does not worry in a year of drought, nor does it cease to produce fruit.”
In this metaphor, God is giving us a word picture of what trusting in the Lord looks like. We are the tree in this metaphor, the water is the Word of God. As we read, study, and meditate on His Word, it is like sending out our roots toward the stream. The heat is any trial and the leaves are an indication of our spiritual health. Drought could be when God feels distant or silent. The fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.
God is telling us as we read, study and meditate on His word we are connecting to Him, building a strong, enduring relationship with Him. When trials come, we will not fear. Instead, we will have the peace of the Spirit. For example, instead of responding in hate and speaking rashly, we can convey God’s love, exercise self-control and speak gentle wisdom. God is telling us it is in the unseen places, we develop and grow our relationship with Him.
No one may ever see or keep track of the hours we may spend with the Lord but what they will experience is the evidence of our pursuit of Him.
I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Denise Much