I noticed it several years ago.
On a trip home from town, a flash of brilliant white caught my eye.
There it stood: a Bradford pear tree exploding with pristine blooms in the midst of a small stand of dreary bare trees and brush. It proudly waved its arms proclaiming, “Spring is just around the corner!”
It was breathtaking…a stark reminder of the hope of new life in the dreary bleakness of winter.
It became something I looked for as I drove to and from town. It changed from pure white blossoms in the spring to glossy emerald leaves in the summer. And, best of all, it positively glowed in autumn. It stood blazing with all the marvelous hues of that season: fiery reds, blazing oranges, and golden yellows.
But, a couple of years ago, some storms came through the area. There were limbs and debris all around and, unfortunately, it was struck (perhaps by lightning?). One-third of the tree was laid on the ground. I was so sad when I saw it because I knew that marked the end of the lovely sight I had been enjoying for years.
I continued to look at it with each passing trip to and from town, wondering if the rest of the tree would fall. Imagine my surprise when I saw some white flowers. Imagine my even greater delight when I noticed that they were not only on the part of the tree left standing, but also on the part of the tree that was lying on the ground!
How in this world could a tree that had a portion of it struck down, still be blooming as if it, too, was as alive as the part still standing?
And it hit me.
One-third of the tree had been struck down, but was still connected to what was apparently a very good root system.
The roots continued to feed and nourish the damaged part of the tree so that it, too, bloomed season after season. Part of the tree stands upright and part is lying on the ground, but both parts bloom in spring, produce leaves in summer, and change colors in the fall.
I started thinking how much our lives are like that tree.
We are traveling along this road of life and things are going like clockwork. But, then suddenly circumstances change. Bad things happen. Illnesses, injuries, or injustices come at us. They threaten to bend us, to break us down, even to kill us.
What makes the difference in whether or not those circumstances destroy us?
It’s all in our roots.
If we have shallow roots and lean only on our own strength, we will bend. We may break. We may get so far from our life source that eventually we die.
But, if we are rooted in our Creator, we will be sustained. We will draw life-giving strength from the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.
John 15:4-5 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus never promised that our lives would go smoothly as His followers. In fact, He promised that we would have tribulation in this world. (John 16: 33: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”)
He did, however, promise that by remaining “rooted” in Him, He would be with us through any tribulations that come our way.
Storms will come in this life. That is a given.
But, just like the tree with the strong root system, we can continue to bloom and grow and thrive if we remain rooted in Him.