Last Sunday our pastor preached a good message on being thankful, and in his message he commented on the different types of root systems different kinds of trees have. He noted that some trees like oaks and walnuts have deep roots, and then trees like the pines and redwoods of California have very shallow roots but find their strength in intertwining with the roots of other trees. As I thought about that another thought crossed my mind.
Up until a few months ago we lived in the beautiful Sierra Foothills, also known as “the mother lode”. To give you a better idea of where we were at, we were so close to Yosemite National Park we often times referred to it as being in our backyard.
Well, about a year ago we had the third largest wildfire in California’s recorded history, known as the “Rim Fire”. The fire was so close to us that relatives was ordered to evacuate, and we were waiting to receive evacuation orders ourselves. We even had a family in the church staying with us because they had also been evacuated. Because of my job I was involved with the evacuation of residents directly impacted by the fire, taking them to shelters setup by the Red Cross.
The smoke from the fire was pretty bad for weeks, and people were being told not to go outside unless necessary, and if so they needed to wear a specialized dust mask to filter the air. People usually didn’t wear the masks though the air quality was terrible and pretty toxic. One of the things I learned from this experience involved the smoke and the trees.
I don’t remember what it was called, but one of the main elements of the smoke was pretty toxic to the trees. You would think these towering trees would be impervious to the smoke, but that wasn’t the case. Apparently the effect this smoke had on the trees was significant because it weakened the trees fibers. This would then make the trees susceptible to falling over or breaking apart. Because of this there was concern both of the trees just falling over, and whether or not they would be able to withstand the winds, rain, and snow from the coming winter.
This reminds me of what we face spiritually and the importance of being well rooted in the faith. As Christians, we are continually bombarded by the allure of sin in its many forms, a poisonous toxin to a Christian. If we have strong, established roots, deep in the Word and tightly intertwined with fellow believers who are both a support and an encouragement to us spiritually, the easier it will be to stand. However, if we absorb what the world is bombarding us with, our backbone to stand will be weakened and we’ll become more apt to fall in the storms of life.
How do we absorb that which the world is bombarding us with? We absorb it through what we listen to, the things that we see and read, the places we go to and the people we hang around with. The more we allow ourselves to be exposed to the temptations of the world, the more apt we are to absorb those things. Is it just in the “big” sins everyone talks about, or does it go beyond that? It involves, not just the “big” sins, but also mindsets and attitudes that are unbiblical and conflict with the Word, as well as the heart and mind of God. These could be seen in misplaced priorities, the greed for power, fame, prestige and financial and material gain. It could be attitudes of superiority and pride, attitudes that express a mindset absent and independent of Christ. It could be self-centeredness and selfishness, and the idea of “whatever feels good” is right and good and living for the moment. It could also be mindsets that have little or no problem with spreading gossip and slander, having little regard for confidentiality and the best interests of the other person you’re talking about.
So, the question is asked, are your fibers getting weakened? Or, are you having little or less backbone to stick with the moral standards found in the Bible, or to remain loyal to your commitment to Christ and His Kingdom? If this is you, then I challenge you to take a step back and re-evaluate your life, and to begin taking steps to change this in you. Only you can determine what you absorb into your heart, mind and life, and it is you with the help of the Holy Spirit that can make the necessary steps to minimize your absorption of what the world throws your way, and to strengthen your “fibers” and backbone for the glory of God and your spiritual health.
By John Johansson