A few days ago, due to the giant hospitality of some family members in California, my husband and I walked through a forest where the trees made our Alabama trees look like saplings. They immediately dwarfed even the largest of the men among us and made me feel like I was in an epic movie about elves or small trolls. It was an exercise in humility before the One who created, replanted and nourished these senior trees for centuries. I stood literally amazed in His presence.
Upon asking a few questions about the root systems, I understood that, contrary to what I would have assumed, the roots of Sequoia trees go only about ten feet under the earth’s surface. So how, one would ask, do these trees stand for centuries towering to heights of near 400 feet? (That’s about 34 stories or so!) It seems to be an impossible feat of engineering.
The answer is that the shallow root system of a Sequoia tree travels outwardly for an entire acre or more, drinking up the rain that falls onto a large area of the ground and becoming entwined with the roots of other giant Sequoia trees in that large vicinity. Thus, the nutrition supply is greater because of these outwardly “traveling” roots and the physics problem of heavenward trees with no depth is solved by the stability gained by getting all “tangled-up” in the root systems of other trees. The trees actually hold each other up!
This made me think about people, especially God’s people. We, as God’s people, need the same two things to be his heavenward people. We need nutrition and each other. We need “traveling roots,” if you will, to grow toward our God. When I try to isolate myself, keeping my Christianity to myself, remaining uninvolved with fellow Christians, I cannot grow heavenward. The stability that I need to reach spiritual heights is only available when I’m all “tangled up” with the people of God. It is, in fact, in involvement with His people—in ministering to them—that I minister to the Lord, Himself (Matthew 25:31-46).
Trees need water. The Psalmist said this eloquently in the very first psalm:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (vs.1-3).
But trees, especially the giant Sequoias, of northern California, also need each other. They could not survive without the strength they derive from their roots growing around each other. I love Jeremiah 17:7,8:
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
I want to be the tree whose roots are both near to the water of Life, for nurture, and outwardly spreading, for stability. God is the original planter, environmentalist and ecologist. Best of all, there are eternal truths hidden in all his workings.
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 33:5).