This Summer, my husband and I visited the Sequoia National Park. As our car wound up the mountain, we were awestruck upon the first glimpse of the gigantic trees. The further we traveled into the Park I felt as if we were driving into a fictional, magical forest. The trees stretched toward the sky, blocking out all but tiny gleams of sunlight. Our goal that day was to see General Sherman, the largest tree in the world. Anticipation grew as our GPS tracked us closer and closer to the tree.
Like a mesmerized child, I climbed out of the car, and followed my husband into the forest. When walking down the trail, we were disappointed to learn that we could not walk directly up to General Sherman. Instead, the tree was surrounded by a barrier fence.
Curious, we began reading each of the plaques containing information about General Sherman or sequoia trees. We read that Sequoias’ root systems do not dig deep into the earth. Instead, the root system is shallow and spreads out rather than down. The roots exist to keep the trees hydrated, but unfortunately can break easily. If a sequoia tree’s roots are destroyed, the tree will become dehydrated and begin to die. For this reason, to protect the tree, we could not walk directly above the root systems. It is amazing to think that something so seemingly strong and invincible could be harmed simply from walking on the soil near the tree.
All of my life, I too have felt a need to be “the strong one”. I desire to be a strong, steady presence because of my trust in the Lord, but also so that those around me feel more comfortable to be vulnerable. While my heart intention in being “strong” is meant for the good of others, it can often unhealthily lead to neglect of my own emotional well-being or pride and a lack of trust in God to care for those I love. Instead, I step in trying to rescue on my own.
This is because I have a shallow root system in Christ. My roots are spread out into so many areas seeking to learn more, do more, and be seen more as a beautiful, strong tree. Rather than digging deep into Truth simply because I want to receive more of His life-giving nourishment, I selfishly focus on taking root in ways that I think will allow me to improve or feel comfort. While this can result in me growing into a seemingly tall, strong tree that others desire to seek out, the reality is — I am a fragile tree, that must be guarded so that my shallow root system cannot become compromised.
In a recent season with strong storms, my roots have been easily ripped from their shallow soil and have left me feeling dehydrated– barely clinging to any form of foundation. I have fought with perseverance to cling to His promises. To trust in His unfailing love. To trust in His plan. But — I’m always brought back to the giant trees with the barrier fence.
“Fill your thoughts with my words until they penetrate deep into your spirit. Then, as you unwrap my words, they will impart true life and radiant health into the very core of your being. So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life. “
Proverbs 4:21-23 (The Passion Translation)
“Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life should be full of thanks to Him.”
Colossians 2:7 (New Life Version)
In Scripture we are told to both guard ourselves and to root down deep into who He is. We are instructed to fill our thoughts with His words UNTIL they begin to take deep root and become second nature — an unshakeable foundation. While my roots are currently shallow, I can guard them by setting boundaries and speaking His truth over myself, until that blessed time when they will finally take root.
May we not be easily shaken, uprooted from the shallow, weak places we draw strength and comfort. Instead, may we dig deeply into the Living Water that provides nourishment, strength, and unshakable hope.