by Suzanne Miller
Are you digging down deep into God’s Word to obtain lasting nourishment?
A number of years ago our neighbor gave us a small coral tree that had sprung from the larger tree in his backyard. We were excited to receive the tree, because they are beautiful with their large clusters of orange or red flowers that peek out amongst their heart-shaped green leaves. The tree grew and expanded out like an umbrella and the blossoms’ nectar was food for the bees and hummingbirds.
We have two other trees in our front yard that have been there since 1968 when the house was built. However, the coral tree was now becoming the focal point. Then we began to notice that the ground was rising up in mounds. Upon inspection we discovered that coming off the base of the tree were four large roots, each with an individual circumference larger than that of the tree itself. They rose up and dove down like giant sea serpents. As we dug around them, our neighbors stopped by to comment on the unbelievable size of those roots.
Determined to compete with the existing trees for nourishment and water, this tree had begun to go around anything that was in its path. We could see that the sidewalk, driveway and water main were no match for this Leviathan of woody creatures.
Sadly, we realized that this spectacular tree was going to have to go. As we have been digging and cutting the roots out of our yard, I began to think about our Christian life as compared to this tree. The roots were going to shove and push themselves past all obstacles to get the nourishment they needed to survive and not just survive, but to thrive and become resplendent.
How are we doing spiritually? Are we as dedicated to sinking our roots down into the life-giving sustenance offered to us through God’s Word and God’s Spirit?
Jeremiah 17:7-8 tells us: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (NIV)
Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (KJV throughout) In a small book written by the author W. Phillip Keller titled, As a Tree Grows, he states, “In the spiritual realm, what is the counterpart of water to a tree? It is life eternal. It is everlasting life. It is the very resurrection life of Christ himself imparted to mortal man. He is shown as the source and spring of everlasting life which is poured out continuously to thirsty men and women.” (pp. 23-24)
In John 7:37 Christ says: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” From Christ we receive the waters that will give us not only the benefit of a spirit filled life today, but eternity in His kingdom. Where do we want to receive our food? The coral tree was striving to find the spring of living waters (our water pipes).
In Keller’s book he states, “But a point to remember is that the tree does not hoard this moisture for itself. The vast network of roots beneath the soil often exceeds the outspread canopy of trunk, branches and leaves spread to the sky. And vast quantities of water are lifted through the framework of the tree to be transpired out into the surrounding air.” (p. 23)
John 7:38-39 continues with Christ’s words: “’He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.”
Just as the roots of a tree suck up moisture and nutrients through a vast network of inner fibers to grow and produce beneficial products for man, we should imbibe the spiritual waters of God’s word and the food that produces true lasting value. But as the tree sends forth moisture and oxygen into the air for our benefit, we as Christians need send that refreshing fragrance to a desperate world in need. It doesn’t do much good to study and learn and then not live what you have received.
The minerals that the tree takes in come from the rocks that leach into the soil. We noticed that a lot of the roots in our yard had grown under the large scattered boulders throughout the area. We are told what that rock and source of nourishment can mean in metaphor.
1 Corinthians 10:3-5 when speaking of the Israelites in the wilderness: “All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
Phillip Keller goes on to say, “In the spiritual realm the strength and stamina of my character will depend upon the sort of material from which it is built. It will be conditioned by the source from which I draw spiritual substance. The decision as to where I choose to sink my spiritual roots and what I prefer to feed my mind and heart and soul rests with me”(p. 65). “As I assimilate God’s Word it becomes incorporated into the very fiber of my makeup. It becomes life and strength to me. The decision for me is a very simple one. Will I or will I not study the scriptures? They contain the riches which are mine in Christ Jesus.” (p. 67)
As our coral tree with all its strength and determination strove to obtain that limited water and nutrients, we should search out the source of ours, Jesus Christ and His word. Then, our actions should show His way through and life just as the tree sends its sweet fragrance into the surrounding sky above.