At certain points in life, for some people, things can get tough on every front at the same time. Within the life of family, the challenges of work, and in health. We can be shaken as if we are, in the moment, within the tumult of an unabating storm. Trees have long been an interest of mine and the impact of a storm on a tree can uproot and flatten it or it can produce greater strength in the roots that anchor it in the depths of the soil that feeds it. For those who know God, know that no storm will uproot and flatten them, that each successive storm though it may come with increased ferocity, will be met in the strength gained from withstanding the storms that preceded it. Like the tree, our roots are buried beneath the surface of what the world sees, these roots are fed and watered by the grace of God. When a strong wind bends a tree, the roots are loosened in the soil and the total contact with the soil is reduced significantly, and with it the source of much nutrition. The tree experiences serious thirst because it draws all its goodness up through water. It is this thirst that causes the roots to search to strengthen the bond with the soil plate around the tree. It can take up to four years before there is any residual evidence of growth in the tree above ground, indeed there can be seen some damage in branches dying back. The ‘rings’ that we all learn signify another year of growth or existence are paper thin, denoting a drought specific to the tree that suffered a battering and had its roots brutally disturbed, in a geography where all the archeological evidence suggests a year, or more, of plenty for the other trees. This same characteristic of root structure that has strengthened the soil plate can be found on the leeward side of trees that stand in consistently strong prevailing winds. Tim spoke on Sunday of the tree roots strengthening, and what we must hold onto in Paul’s teaching in order to ensure that our shaken roots strengthen in the ground God has planted us in, to grow in all seasons of our lives, and through all moments of each day.
There was a really good unpacking of anxiety and its associated feelings fear, false guilt, excessive sense of obligation at the Bible Study on Wednesday. We thought about where it came from, how it can be resolved, even that it’s an appropriate response in the right circumstances and where not disproportionate. Well worth a listen. During the time, the question popped into my head ‘I wonder whether God gets anxious?’ Assured that it was a reasonable, though to me now, maybe a childishly impertinent question, I’ve since been unable to get it out of my mind. Of course God is a consuming passionate being ‘the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness ….Exodus 34;6 how could I not be aware of that? He knows when two little birds flutter to the ground and even the number of hairs on our heads. Matthew 10;29,30. I also remembered that hushed scene in heaven Revelations 5 when ‘the one on the throne’ is holding a sealed scroll containing his will of justice for the future, but there appears no one having the authority to break the seals. Then the Lion of the tribe of Judah comes into focus, appearing as a sacrificial lamb who is found worthy to break the seals because ‘he was slain and with his blood he has purchased men for God. How could God not be the most caring, the most desiring to know and be known by us intimately, and the most anxious for our wellbeing, when he was prepared to die on our behalf and free us from the things that would separate us from him and each other. And as God, our creator how could he not have the strength of love to do just that. May we respond to his passion for us.
Halesworth Community Church