As I sit in my grandmother’s rocking chair, gazing out over my garden, I’m watching hurricane Ian march through my property. Behind my wall of Chindo viburnums, the woods are taking the brunt of the high winds and rain. I can tell the intensity of the wind by how much noise the leaves make when the wind passes through the canopy. One of the oak trees in the woods is swaying in its top canopy at least five feet with the wind. Fortunately, I don’t see any trees in distress and the birds still come to the feeder in between rain showers. Yesterday I only saw one hummingbird. I only hope she left or can find a tree hollow in which to fluff up her feathers and sleep through the storm. The other two have perhaps left for warmer winter climes. I wish they were smart enough to go inside the bird house!
Watching the storm ravage my trees made me think about how strong, yet how flexible these massive oak and sycamore trees really are. I’m sure the leaves act as little sails when the wind blows through them. They might not be swaying as much if it was December and there were no leaves.
So what makes these trees able to withstand the beating of the wind? We saw in Florida that many palms didn’t make it as the wind broke them or bent them to the ground, never to rise again. Certainly, their root systems form a major component of stability. Shallow roots mean unstable trees, especially if the rain has already saturated the ground. Deep roots mean more stability. But I am also reminded that multiple tree roots interlock with each other. The Lord built into the DNA of trees some unknown sense to do this. So even if one area gets stressed, the tree can leverage strength from neighboring root systems.
This reminds me that our ability to weather the storms of life also depends on our root systems. We, too, put down roots in a community, neighborhood, and church. Our friends help sustain us in times of trial when our lives are swaying with what the winds of the world throw at us. We are strongest when we belong to a network of believers who will help us hold on during the storms and come to repair if our lives sustain damage. If we have shallow roots that are anchored in the world, we will have a harder time surviving a storm. And we will not find the nourishment we need to sustain life. Scripture talks about the tree that is planted by a river that does not die when the drought comes.
“They 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.” (1)
That water is Jesus. If you plant your roots by the water of life, you will survive any storm the world can throw at you. If not, you may not survive when the heat or storm comes.
This is a simple principle, but so often ignored until a surprise storm—a death, illness, financial difficulty—arises. If you can dig deep into your spirit and find Christ, you will have the strength to face anything. If you have a body of believers around you supporting your roots, they will help you. Standalone trees have a much harder time surviving.
God designed us to be planted by the water of life and in fellowship with believers. The tree of life in heaven grows along the river that flows from the throne of God. It always bears fruit, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations.
The Lord makes provision for every creature to survive. But humans have an extra advantage. We come together with other believers to help us stand strong and withstand the winds and storms that blow around us in a world that still operates under the curse that began in the garden. Fellowship is the Lord’s way of bolstering us here on earth until we take our place in heaven, where no more storms will blow through our lives.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
Revelation 22:1-2 NIV
- Jeremiah 17:7 NIV