This week I walked in a section of our yard where I don’t usually go and noticed an extensive root system snaking across the bed where one of our trees is located. The roots are thick and sturdy and more visible now that the pine straw in the bed has settled. Perhaps drought conditions in the last few years have brought the root system to the surface, but whatever the cause, seeing this reminded me of the importance of a strong root system in our lives.
Summertime in South Carolina is synonymous with pop-up thunderstorms that often include high winds. At times, the winds are violent enough to break limbs or topple trees that don’t possess an adequate root system.
A number of years ago, the tallest tree in our back yard uprooted one night during a thunderstorm. It shook the ground and rattled the windows when it hit. To look at the tree, you’d never have guessed it was likely to fall. The trunk was massive and thick roots spread in all directions. Yet, after the tree fell, an inspection of the root end of the tree showed the entire root system was brittle and decayed, leaving the trunk hollow in the middle.
Our lives can be the same. To a casual observer, you may look like you are confident, successfully juggling all the balls in your world. You may even feel in control and secure in yourself, your abilities, and the support system you’ve established, but if your world was suddenly rocked by an intense period of hardship, would you be able to handle it?
Many times our root systems are damaged by lack of confidence, low self-esteem, negative self-talk, anger, or unforgiveness, creating a hollowness that is unseen by others, yet spills over into our thoughts and attitudes. Events or people may have contributed to the erosion. Now, before a life storm blows up, seemingly out of nowhere, examine the your root structure and take steps to grow some healthier roots.
Often trees and plants spring up in places where they were not planted, awkward locations like a concrete expansion joint or beside the foundation of a building. These “volunteers” grow and flourish for a time, but eventually their surroundings cause them to be misshapen and stunted, or make it impossible to sustain life.
While trees and plants don’t chose their location, we have the opportunity to choose where we go and with whom we associate. At times, initial involvement with people, organizations, or activities may feel rewarding, as if we are making headway, moving forward with goals, or advancing in a particular area. But not all advancement is conducive to growth. Sometimes, too many thin roots running in multiple directions does nothing more than sap strength and thwart purpose. Choose carefully with whom you associate and where you focus involvement. Make sure you are receiving and growing rather than being sapped and diverted from what is best for you.
Make sure you are receiving and growing rather than being sapped and diverted from what is best for you.
A root system does more than allow a tree or plant to remain upright. Roots are the pathway for water and nutrients. In some cases, roots even help to prevent disease and encourage growth.
We usually think of nourishment only in terms of what we eat and drink, but in order to remain healthy, strong, and maintain forward motion, we need mental, emotional, and spiritual nourishment as well. Many people discount these areas of nourishment and fail to feed themselves with continual learning, ways of encouraging and expressing creativity, interaction with those who are grounded and wise, and the ingestion of spiritual food. But all are important to health, growth, and well-being.
Only by establishing and maintaining good relationships, continued learning, creative expression, and spiritual growth can we develop a strong root system that sustains when the storms of life come.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.” Jeremiah 17:7-8a NLT
In order to remain healthy, strong, and maintain forward motion, we need mental, emotional, and spiritual nourishment.