The older I grow, the more I notice the storms. I am like a tree, whose increasing height causes its branches to tremble in greater gales. As an immature shrub I did not notice the weather as much, being close to the ground. As a more mature evergreen, I feel the wind rustle through every branch, shake every leaf, and chill me to the core. I see more, gain greater perspective, and face greater fears as I grow.
Yet there is comfort, too. My roots have grown stronger as I have grown taller. The soil I was planted in has nourished and sustained me all this time, and my roots have gone deep. My foundation of faith has proved solid and true. Abiding in Jesus has not been in vain.
Perhaps this is why the Bible often describes men as “trees.” We need the kind of imagery that gives us peace in the storms of life, an understanding of who we are that defies the challenges of our situations. A mature tree cannot be easily uprooted. It has the resources within itself to draw up water – strength - from the deeper wells of the earth. We need to know that. We need to do that.
Our feelings do not serve us well in the life of faith. Feeling the wind rustle our branches does not mean that we will be uprooted! It only means that there is a wind, a natural course of life. We may not like the disturbance; we may even feel a few of our branches snap off and die. Yet it is not we who are dying, but the dead weight that is being divinely pruned.
Coping with the Storms
Trees, like people, make adjustments for wintry storms and perilous times. Even a tree knows how to conserve energy, to sharpen its focus in order to extend its life. In fair weather, a tree allows its branches to soak in rich sunlight. In a storm, a tree does not lean on its branches for security. It relies on its root system.
Faith works the same way. When the winds are against us, looking at the storm doesn’t help us any more than it helped the disciple Peter to step out of the boat. (Matthew 14:22-33). Focusing on Jesus and drawing our life from Him is what causes us to weather a storm. Our five senses don’t sustain us. Our faith does.
Faith is the vine into which we have been grafted (See Romans 11:17). It is the root system that holds us steady in the whirlwinds. You do not support the root; the root supports you, writes the Apostle Paul. He spoke of the Jewish roots of our faith, of course, but he also chose the imagery of a tree to describe the workings of faith. We do well to pay attention.
I do not know that I will ever enjoy the storms of life! They can be unnerving, unsettling: traumatic to my otherwise stable system. I need time to recover, regroup, and regrow after such challenges. Yet each time there is a storm, I marvel at the strength that faith in God provides. Instinctively, my roots locate the nourishment I need to survive. I emerge lighter, unburdened by the weight of the dead branches which have now fallen. I revel in the warmth of the sun, which has miraculously reappeared in the sky as if to comfort me. I am strong again, deepening my roots in Christ even as I continue to reach for higher realms.
c. Deborah Perkins/ His Inscriptions
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.