Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deep Roots

There I was, spending another early Sunday morning in the living room. I had been awake for several hours, tossing and turning in bed before finally giving up. Just three days before, I had learned that my work group was being disbanded and that I needed to find a new job. I had been running the what-ifs through my head, trying to figure out where money could come from in the event I could not find another job. Just how many hits am I expected to take?

After eating breakfast, I turned on Dr. David Jeremiah to watch his message. Wouldn't you know it, his message was about deepening our faith. I could swear that this man is following me. During his message, he told a story about two farmers who lived on separate sides of a mountain. This mountain was known for the bad storms that swept over it. Both farmers had decided to plant new crops of trees. The older farmer planted his and then pretty much left nature to take its course on them. The younger farmer on the other side of the mountain planted his trees and watered them regularly. He then carefully built berms around each tree to hold the water. He even told the older farmer that he should be taking better care of his trees. The older farmer would just nod and say they would be okay. The younger farmer's trees grew and bloomed. The older farmer's trees looked like they were just getting by. Then one night the storm that the mountain was known for hit. The rains poured and the wind blew. The next morning, the younger farmer's trees were all down, their shallow roots exposed. The older farmer's trees were still standing. The younger farmer's trees had become dependent on the shallow water that he had been delivering to them. The older farmer's trees had been forced to grow their roots deeper to find water, enabling them to withstand the storms. What had appeared to be indifference by the farmer had made them stronger and prepared for the storm he knew was coming.

I think in that one story we can see two paths in the Christian life. There are those who believe and teach that once you become a Christian, all will be well. Jesus will come by and feed and water you. It will just be an easy life. The other path is that the Christian life is not a simple life. It can be hard, and in it can be found pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, for those who think the road will be easy, when the storm hits, they are toppled and their roots are exposed. They have never grown the deep roots needed to survive the storm.

Jesus has never promised that the road would be easy, just that He would be there with us. I think that Jesus uses the trials that enter our lives to encourage us to grow deeper roots. Jesus knows the storms that will enter our lives and uses each to make our roots go deeper to find the living water that only He can give.

I used to think that Jesus used the first fifty years of my life to prepare me to fight cancer. That may very well be the case, but now I believe that He used these last two years of my life to grow the deeper roots I need to weather this latest storm. After witnessing all that Jesus has done these past two years, I believe that He can get me through this storm as well.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I remember at our first house in Midland deciding that we needed some rose bushes in the backyard. I bought a book that told how to properly feed, water, care for and prune rose bushes. Then we planted six bushes in the backyard flower beds.

Everything went great; as long as I paid attention to the bushes, they would just grow and grow. They produced some beautiful Tiffany roses and would grow well into the fall. The problems would occur when I did not keep up with the pruning. When not pruned, the branches would start to grow out instead of up and before long, the branches from neighboring bushes would grow together and become entangled. That was when pruning became difficult. I would usually have to start with small cuts and then work my way into the bush to get it back in the shape it should have been. Once pruned back, the roses would begin growing tall and beautiful again.

I have started to realize that a life with Christ is a lot like those rose bushes. There are times that we can grow straight and beautiful. Then there are times when we don't pay attention and things in life start to grow together and get all tangled up. Then the Master Gardener has to come along and do some pruning. That pruning can hurt--a lot. But once he is done cutting out the old tangled and ugly branches, we can once again begin to grow straight and beautiful.

There has been a lot of pruning the last two years. Just when I think it is all done, it seems like Jesus finds one more thing that needs to be pruned. Initially that pruning has been painful, but over time it has become a relief to have the old cut away so that the new can grow. I am so looking forward to being the rose bush that Jesus wants me to be.