When Steve and I moved from South Florida to north of Tampa, we were delighted to see the abundance of live oak trees. Each one reaches wide with graceful, curving branches, forming intricate patterns.
Live oaks can grow to be eighty feet tall and just as broad. They often live for hundreds of years. In fact, I’ve read that oak trees can live for more than one thousand years!
The key to their longevity is their root system, which reaches down into the soil about four feet, and extends laterally to ninety feet. Such depth and width offers strong support for the tree.
Of course, roots also provide water and nutrients. A mature oak can take in more than fifty gallons of water per day, much of which evaporates and keeps the tree cool.
Such facts give me greater understanding and appreciation for Jeremiah 17:7-8.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Doesn’t that sound satisfying and peaceful? Yet too often I’ve been more like a tumbleweed in the desert—dry, flitting here and there, and anything but peaceful.
How do I turn my tumbleweed self into a mature, flourishing tree?
The secret is in the roots. Oak tree roots grow wide and deep; tumbleweeds have none.
I have to send out my roots into the soil of God’s Word. That’s where the nutrients of strength, wisdom, and encouragement will come from. The deeper and wider my knowledge, the more empowered I’ll be to withstand the buffeting challenges of life.
The soil also represents God’s love (Ephesians 3:17-18). I must learn about my loving Heavenly Father and spend time with him in order to know him. As intimacy develops, trust grows.
And when roots grow deep into God’s Word and his love, when we practice his presence, we can remain strong when life turns up the heat…
- When our kids make foolish choices
- When the boss’s high expectations ratchet up a few more notches
- When the paycheck will not stretch another penny
- When a disagreement becomes an impasse
- When a decision must be made and the pros and cons swim endlessly in our heads
We express our trust by affirming what we know about God. And we affirm our confidence in him by reviewing his promises–not once a day in a quick morning prayer, but moment by moment.
Roots are continually absorbing water and nutrients. We must do the same by praising and thanking God all day long. Even our concerns can be expressed with praise and gratitude:
“Father, I lift up _______ to you as he looks for another job. We are trusting you to provide, knowing that those who seek you lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10). Our hope is in you because no one who hopes in you is put to shame (25:3). I thank you that he is looking to you, God, and seeking your path. You are a good and upright God; you will instruct ______ in the way you have chosen for him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Hallelujah!”
As our roots grow deep, our spirits can reach high and strong like live oak branches — in adoration and praise for our trustworthy God.
I am DONE with tumbleweed living! How about you?
(Photo credits: www.nativetreesociety.org; http://www.sonoragardensinc.com)