Today is a windy day. As I’m writing this, I can look out of the windows of my office and see the trees on the front lawn of the church blowing around in the wind. Branches and leaves are swirling. But as I look down the trunk of the trees from the top to the bottom, it’s amazing to me how much of the trunk sways as the tree defies the strength of the wind blowing through it. But the base of the tree…the bottom 3-4 feet of it, is completely stationary.
Given how much of the rest of the tree is moving, it’s surprising to me how the base of the tree remains stable.
Our home backs up to a wooded area. And last year, when the tornados came through Owatonna, we lost 12 mature trees that fell into our yard. (Anyone need any firewood?)
A few of those trees were pulled up and out of the ground. But I was shocked at how many of the trees simply snapped near the base. Snapped…like a twig, Some of the trees had a 5 foot radius.
The power of a wind that can snap a tree like that is incredible. but even more amazing (and less visible) is the strength of the root system.
Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite theologians and authors, wrote that:
“Trees that grow tall have deep roots. Great height without great depth is dangerous. The great leaders of this world – like St. Francis, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., – were all people who could live with public notoriety, influence, and power in a humble way because of their deep spiritual rootedness.
Without deep roots we easily let others determine who we are. But as we cling to our popularity, we may lose our true sense of self. Our clinging to the opinion of others reveals how superficial we are. We have little to stand on. We have to be kept alive by adulation and praise. Those who are deeply rooted in the love of God can enjoy human praise without being attached to it.”
Deep roots. We all want deep roots. And I hear people define deep roots in many different ways:
- For some, it is honoring their family, their ancestors, and their history
- For some, it is all about a commitment to their cultural background
- For some, it is a significant relationship
- For some it is a community of people, close friends who share experiences
- For others, it is about depth of knowledge
For me, I am drawn back to the first sentence of Nouwen’s second paragraph: “Without deep roots we let others determine who we are.”
To be deeply rooted is to be confident in your identity. It is to know that God reaches out to us in the waters of baptism, claims us as God’s own, and gives us a new name: Child of God. It is a name in which we all share.
When we are confident in our identity, everything else follows. We know where we come from…we know to whom we belong…we know where we are going and the roots of our identity grow deep. While we may twist in the wind…while life may blow us around, our base remains strong, and stable.
Because we are rooted in Christ. And because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phil 4:13
That is your identity. That is who you are. Remain rooted in Christ.