The wind was howling outside to the point of shaking the windows for hours. When the stormy winds passed, we assessed the damage outside and I was really surprised by how many trees in our back yard had fallen. I'm so thankful none fell on our house, but also sad to see so many lying on the ground or stuck in the branches of stronger trees that did not fall.
One tree in particular really broke my heart.
It was such a big, strong-looking tree before the storm. Now it was a dried up piece of wood lying in my yard, helpless and alone. What happened to it that made it so weak that the stormy winds knocked it over? I couldn’t even tell by looking at it on the outside. But inside, something devastating was happening. I wish I had known.
The tree somehow lost it's nourishment. It had become weaker and weaker as the days would pass and even though I couldn't see what was happening inside the tree, it was drying up and dying, rotting from the inside out. The storm had proven to be too much for what seemed to be a strong, majestic tree.
This is what the Lord says: "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their heads away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land (Jeremiah 17:5 – 8).
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."
How often have we felt dried up and lifeless in life? There are usually tell-tale signs, or symptoms that we may be rotting up. First, we will begin to worry more and trust God less. We may also notice that we feel a sort of "hollowness" in our spirit. Like the tree, initially our outside will not show the signs of decay inside, but we know something is missing. We may also notice our leaves and fruit production begin to halt. The life drains from us slowly as we begin to trust in other people instead of God and spend less time in His word.
God's word is nourishment to our dried up spirits. His words give life! Psalm 119:165 says, "Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble." Great peace. I want that, don't you?
I do pray that today we will tend to our roots, take an inventory of our lives and ask God to plant us by His living water. Without nourishment, we will be doomed to rot from the inside out — a slow, painful and difficult process as we lean on our own understanding and the opinions of others for our nourishment — which will lead us to dry up and live in an "uninhabited salty land".
I heard a quote once: "If praise elates you, then criticism will deflate you."
It's so true. And so convicting. I know this is a struggle I have faced my entire life, but I also know my strength comes from the Lord, and through Him I can be rooted and strengthened as I focus on His thoughts of me, not other people's opinions.
The storms of life are not optional, they are a part of this fallen world. These storms can either break us or help us grow stronger. We do not have to be destroyed by those storms, though! We can stand tall, firmly planted and rooted in the truths of God's word when those storms come.
Even if you are not going through a difficultly right now, it's the perfect opportunity to begin feeding your spirit with Truth so when those times come, you will stand tall and strong in the midst of it.
What are some ways you can nourish your “roots” in God’s Word? How can you find inner strength when the storms of rage come passing through your life? Would you pray and ask God if there is someone in your life who may be rotting from the inside out, though they may look strong on the outside?
"As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in Your commands. Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live." —Psalm 119:143 – 144