“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:17 NLT
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 NLT
Anyone that knows me knows how much I love Charleston, South Carolina. Aside from the enchanting appeal of its architecture, it’s also abundantly rich in history, which I love. The cobble stone streets alone instantly take you back in time. There are plenty of things to do and see, which is why loads of tourists from all over flock there to experience the low-country charm for themselves. One of my favorite things about Charleston is the vast amount of live oak trees that grow and thrive there. You can’t think of the south and not think of live oak trees. Speaking of live oaks, there’s one in particular called the Angel Oak Tree. It’s said to be the oldest and largest live oak tree east of the Mississippi River, and it’s actually located in John’s Island, South Carolina which is about 20 minutes from Charleston.
During one of my many trips to Charleston, I decided I’d make the drive to John’s Island to see this tree in person, and let me tell you, the pictures just don’t do it any justice. It stands at a massive 66.5 feet tall and its trunk has a circumference of 28 feet. It’s also said to be about 400-500 years old. The sheer size alone was enough to take my breath away. Believe it or not, there are live oaks bigger and older than the Angel Oak tree (which is insane) located in the south, but one thing they all have in common is that they’re strong. Live oak trees have dense wood, enabling them to withstand high-wind storms, such as hurricanes. Not only that, but the live oaks are also known to have a deep and broad root system anchoring them to the ground, which makes them less likely to be toppled over by storms.
2020 has been the year of storms hasn’t it? The year started off with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has altered our lives in such a way that none of us have seen or experienced before, and still is. As if that weren’t enough, there’s been an uproar over the racial injustices in this country. It’s obvious that there are things that HAVE to change. And to top it all off, the media continues to exploit these moments (among other things) which in turn, further divides us and therefore, creates more chaos, fear, and confusion.
What if we were like the live oak tree; able to withstand the storms of life. What would that look like I wonder?
Well, I think the first order of business is to get to the root of the problem. (Pun fully intended) A tree’s roots are essential to their survival. Their two main functions are to absorb water and nutrients from the soil and to anchor the tree. So, if the root system is damaged or depleted of nutrients then the roots become weak, making the tree more susceptible to fall, even with the slightest bit of wind. In the same way, when we’re apart from God, we become susceptible to fall due to the slightest bit of change or distraction. This is why a strong and healthy root system is so important. Our root system works in the same way a tree’s does, except: we absorb LIVING water, the kind that only Jesus can offer (John 4:13), and our nourishment from the soil comes from doing God’s will here on earth (John 4:34). All of this keeps us anchored and secure in the hope that we have in God’s promises (Hebrews 6:19; John 3:16; John 16:33).
It’s clear that we have a root problem in our world. The reality is we’re living in a fallen world- a world plagued with moral and spiritual darkness where distractions are around every corner. It’s imperative that we stay rooted in TRUTH so that we don’t fall. I fully believe that God didn’t send any of this our way, and I also fully believe that he is using all of this to WAKE US UP- to what we aren’t doing, and therefore, what we need to be doing.
Did you know that when two trees of the same species grow side by side, they can end up sharing root systems? As their root systems grow, they will eventually intertwine with one another. Ecclesiastes 4:9 it says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” And Ecclesiastes 4:12 goes even further to say, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” We need to stand together in solidarity church. Let our roots intertwine so that we can withstand the storms of life together. The storms will continue to come, but while the rest of the world bends with the lies and breaks under the pressure of the weight of the changes, we will be like the live oak trees: strong and immovable. Because even when everything around us in the world is uprooted and damaged, those rooted in love and in truth will be left standing.