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The Gospel According To Trees - Part 5

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the culminating climax of God’s story of redemption, but it is not the end. The risen Christ continues to transform lives and calls us to join Him in the work of new creation as we await His promised return. Trees provide an instructive vision of this life together in Christ that He calls us to.

At a Casting Crowns concert a few years ago, the lead singer, Mark Hall, shared about seeing a 300 hundred year old oak tree while driving through Alabama with the youth group he pastors. The tree was so big, it took 8 people to complete a circle around the trunk. This tree, along with other oaks in the nearby city, were marked by mud lines, indicating the height of flood waters the trees had endured over many years. Marveling at the strength of these trees, they learned the reason for their size and strength was a root system that was as numerous and strong as the branches.

Historic Oak Tree in Geneva, AL
AlabamaGuy2007 at English Wikipedia

In Isaiah 61, God promises a Savior who will proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, and set captives free, turning their mourning into gladness, that they would be called oaks of righteousness, planted by the Lord for HIs glory. In Luke 4 Jesus quotes a couple of verses of this passage as His mission statement and declared its fulfillment with His arrival. Jesus restores our relationship with God, one another and all of creation, so that we would be a steadfast expression of God's truth, beauty and goodness with wide branches that extend the shade of God’s restoring power and love to the world around us.

The width, towering height and extensive reach of majestic trees and their branches capture our attention. But equally important if not more so is the invisible root system of these great oaks that keeps them firmly planted in the midst of storms and floods, and nourished in the midst of extreme temperatures.

Psalms 1 and Jeremiah 17 compares those who trust in the Lord and walk in His wisdom to trees firmly planted by streams of water. Their leaves don’t wither and they continually bear fruit in their season. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul encourages us to grow our roots deep into Christ that we may be built up and well-established in Him. Jesus calls us to abide in Him, through a life of trusting obedience and reliance, so that we will produce lasting fruit.

With all of the responsibilities, pressures and pursuits that fill our plates, it's easy for our attention to be completely occupied with the outward life; Our various plans and activities, what we’re getting done or not getting done, how others perceive us and so on. But just as rings of a tree grow from the center of the tree outwards, Our inner life with Jesus is what strengthens us and determines the quality of the fruit of our lives. We can't manufacture the fruit of the Spirit but a life that increasingly displays God's truth, beauty and goodness requires attention to the inner life of our heart. Without deep roots, our efforts to grow wide branches can become compartmentalized efforts at earning God's favor, and in the midst of life's storms and extreme temperatures we can become easily disillusioned and blown over.

Rhythms and practices that help us be attentive and responsive to the Lord with honest and humble hearts will increasingly root us in Christ, nourishing us with His Word and Spirit to mature us through life's many seasons. Over time every aspect of our lives from the mundane to the magnificent becomes increasingly expressive of God's heart and nature accomplishing His good purposes in us and through us.

Deep Roots, Wide Branches. This is the life that God calls us to as we find our place in His unfolding story. I'm grateful for the ways we've lived into this over the years. By His grace, may we continue deepening our roots in Christ and extending our reach into the part of the world He has planted us.



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