I heard on the radio this week that looking at a tree for 20 minutes a day will improve your mental clarity and sharpen your thinking skills. I realized that since I didn’t see this on the internet, it might not be true. So I decided to put it to the test. When I look out my office window, I have a view of several trees, so I picked one that is starting to change into its fall colors and looked at it. I can’t tell you if it worked, because I couldn’t last the whole 20 minutes.
But something did occur to me while I was looking at the tree. I remembered learning in my college botany class that many trees have a root system that is as elaborate as the branches that we see. So if we could see the whole tree, roots and all, it would be like mirror images with the ground being the line between them.
This, then, led me to remember what Mickey Rapier said to us Saturday about growing deeper and reaching higher. In order for a tree to grow higher and spread it branches wider, it has to sink its roots deeper into the soil. These roots gather and provide the necessary water and nutrients from the soil to the rest of the tree that enable it to grow. They also anchor the tree and allow it to stand strong when the winds blow. Trees with the healthiest root systems are the ones that endure the storms best.
Every one of us wants to be like a tree. I know you say you wanted to be a flower or a bird or a bunny in your elementary school play, but admit it, you REALLY wanted to be a tree, didn’t you? (Says the guy who was a tree.)
OK, so maybe we would just like to have some tree-like qualities. We all want to provide something useful, like shade, or fruit, or oxygen. We would love to think that our presence somehow takes some of the toxicity out of the air around us. And wouldn’t it be nice to know that the world is more beautiful because we are in it – especially for those of us who might be moving into our autumn years and our true colors are showing.
And if these things are true of us, wouldn’t it be great to expand our reach and influence to as many people and areas as possible? But in order to reach higher, we first have to go deeper. We have to sink our roots into the soil that gives us what we need for life. The question we need to ask is “What gives me life?” And then there is the follow-up, “How deeply am I sinking the roots of my life into what is life giving?”
I’m sure each of us finds different activities, experiences, and even relationships life giving. But there is an absolute source of life that we all can draw from. Read through these slowly and let them sink in:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6-7)
Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
The most important source of life that we need to root deeply into is our relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the best ways to do this is through His Word. I have studied the Bible for more years than I care to count, and unfortunately too many of those years I studied just for knowledge and information.
But we are told that the Word of God is “alive” and “active” because in it we encounter the Incarnate Word Himself, Jesus Christ. The Bible isn’t just a book that speaks about God, it is God speaking. As I have learned to read the Bible for conversation with God, listening for His Spirit to speak to me through the Word, I have grown deeper in my relationship with Him. I am not just informed by the Bible, I am transformed by it, because in it, I come face to face with Jesus.
I think we all like the idea of reaching higher – of being a greater influence for good, of experiencing life to its fullest. But if we are going to do that, we must first grow deeper. As we sink our roots deep and anchor in our relationship with Jesus, then we will flourish and grow and truly come alive.
Doug Raines, Global Outreach and BiLD Leader.