Last week I went to my first summer camp, and I learned a lot. I did a number of things — from archery to zip lining! But one of the things that really stuck with me was how much I have to learn from trees. The camp’s theme was being rooted.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV, emphasis added).
Well, we can learn from all of God’s creation. God gives many examples of His creation in the book of Job, and you can see how awesome He is through what He made.
“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12:7-10 (ESV)
When you’re out in nature, smelling the flowers, feeling the breeze, listening to the frogs croak, and looking up into the sky, you can easily see there is a Great Creator behind it all. How could some random particles colliding in space make this?
All of nature shows us so much about our faith, but today I’m going to focus on the trees. Here are three things trees teach us that stood out to me at camp:
#1: Wind and fire can make us stronger.
If, as Christians, we are trees, the winds and fires of life strengthen us. Once, some scientists created a miniature sealed ecosystem. They called it Biosphere 2. It was created to sustain itself but, surprisingly, the trees didn’t survive. The trees grew faster, yet before they were completely mature, they fell! It turned out the lack of wind in Biosphere 2 actually made the trees weaker. In the wild, the wind’s stress upon the tree encourages roots to go deeper. It makes them stronger.
Fire is also good for trees. It promotes thicker bark, opens up the pine cones, and leaves good nutrients in the soil. When I was hiking last week, I noticed a lot of burnt trees. Looking up higher, I saw green growth, even on many of the trees with burnt lower trunks. I could see they survived the fires, and now they thrive off the nutrients the fire left in the soil.
We can do the same. Let’s remember that we would collapse without the winds of trials, and the fires in our lives can ultimately be good for us. We just have to persevere and grow deep roots in God’s love, and He will get us through the testings of our faith.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)
#2: The tallest trees can come from the smallest seeds.
As I hiked among the sequoia trees, the size of them overwhelmed me. I was amazed by how tall they were. My group went over to the biggest one. There were about a dozen of us, and we couldn’t get our arms around it, or even close, if we all tried! I just stared up in awe. It was a great sight.
Then our leader showed us a seed — a tiny little thing that would make your littlest toe look big. A seed that size was what the mightiest sequoia came from. How could something so little grow to become so lofty?
The sequoia reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed:
“And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” – Mark 40:30-32 (ESV)
We too have the potential to grow and become something so much more than we are now. The tallest trees can come from the tiniest seeds. It doesn’t matter where you are now. There is so much room to grow.
#3: Sequoias depend on each other.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – Thessalonians 5:11
Sequoias are very good at this! Where there are others, sequoias thrive. You see, as big as they are, sequoia trees have no taproots. The taproot of a tree is the root that go deep down and supports it, but the mighty sequoia lacks it. The trees are very hardy and can survive many fires, but many die just because they fall. How do they stand up then?
The sequoias intertwine their branch roots. The sequoia’s roots don’t go very deep, but they go far and wide and meet with many other sequoia roots. Their branch roots, the roots closer to the surface, can cover an acre! They all intertwine their roots with each other, and they stand together. They depend on each other.
As believers, we must grow deep roots to become healthy trees. We must be rooted and grounded in God’s love, and feed off his Word and prayer. But we must also support each other. Especially when we are young in the faith, we need other believers.
So let’s learn from the trees. Let’s reach out our roots deep and wide, let’s remember that the tallest trees come from the smallest seeds, and let’s be strengthened by wind and fire.