I Corinthians 15:58–Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
We had a pine tree fall in the wind and rain last night. It had been leaning for months, slowly bending further and further until it could no longer support its own weight and came crashing down, yanking its roots from the ground. It woke me up-the sound of the wood cracking and the monstrous hollow thump when it hit the earth. I went out to inspect things this morning and noticed that as the pine fell it took a branch off an oak tree, but the oak tree didn’t budge one tiny little bit. I’m sure the whole oak tree quivered with the blow, but its main trunk is still just as straight and strong this morning as ever.
I’ve been both of those trees. On my spiritual walk, there have been times I’ve been the pine tree. Feeling the pressure of the current storm, the heaviness of my own worries and doubts. And, I’ve let my roots slip from my foundation and come crashing down. As I came down and let myself become filled with my own failure, I’ve taken others around me down too. Broken my own strong faith and bruised theirs. To my shame.
At times, I’ve been the oak tree, too. Reaching into the sky where my hope comes from, keeping my eyes fixed on God. Remaining strong through the storms. Withstanding the blows of life as they come at me left and right, I’ve held on strongly to my faith, clung even more tightly to God, and weathered the wind and rain. And in those strong moments, others may be falling around me, but, with God’s strong hand, I have remained upright so I can help others get back up.
A forest of trees actually helps protect each other by breaking winds as they rush through. Once people start cutting the trees, rearranging the earth, like we have, the wind can reach weaker trees and pull them down. I imagine that’s what’s happened to our pine tree. They are weaker-rooted, softer-wooded trees and the wind is simply too much for them. We, as Christians, can help protect each other from life’s storms. We can help support each other by lending helping hands, praying for one another, and checking on each other when one is weak. Those of us who aren’t in the middle of a storm, or are and feel stronger, can circle around the one who is struggling and protect them-lend them some of our strength.
I pray that when the next storm of my life comes, I’ll be like the oak tree and remain assured of His strength. I pray that I’ll be a help to someone who needs some extra strength. Surely, I have enough to spare for now. But, I also pray that if I get weak, you will lend me some strength and help hold me up. Together in our faith we are stronger. Together we can continue to work for God and press through the problems. Together with love we can hold each other up.
(It’s warm here and we don’t have any ice. Just lots and lots of rain, but I love this picture. I took it a couple years ago here at my house during an ice storm. It was so beautiful!)