©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
As a child, the massive redwood trees in California captivated me when my family visited there. That same summer, “It’s a Small World” and the Lighted Parade at Disneyland made a lasting impression. How fortunate my brother and I were that our parents exposed us not only to the mechanical and technological elements found in Disney’s magic but also God’s grandeur and creativity revealed in nature.
Recently I started thinking about how our faith growth is like the redwoods. When we discover God, we experience an awe that is life-changing. As we grow in the Lord, we learn that the strength, support and shade provided by the Lord Most High far exceeds what we can imagine.
Until I discovered the redwoods, I thought the trees in our neighborhood were gigantic. A large oak tree in our backyard held a rope knot swing perfect for fun. The “Jacob’s Ladder” bridge my dad built between two trees helped me learn to balance and cross it – and also how to hold on and drop gently when I flipped.
Did you know redwood trees can reach more than 300 feet?
The growth of the tallest trees on earth is aided by rich soil, substantial rainfall and mid-range temperatures, as well as wind protection provided by redwoods around it.
Our faith growth is similar. Think about it.
Cool to Mid-range Temps
Anger affects our life temperature as does stress. When we release that anger and frustration to God and prayerfully pursue peace in our lives and relationships, we stay on a more even keel. In addition to prayer, actions such as exercise, reading and creating can help us direct our energies in a productive way and release tensions.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31 NIV
When we dig our roots into the richness of the Bible’s history and lessons for life, we stay grounded in nutrients for our soul. The inner strength found in those who stay entrenched in well fertilized soil becomes evident to those around them.
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15 NIV
Refreshing, thirst-quenching, life-giving water is necessary for survival for plant and human life. For redwoods to grow as tall as they do, they need lots of rain.
An ongoing source of “water” also draws us heavenward if we choose.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14 NIV
Protection by Others Around Us
Friends who pray for us and with us surround us with their faith and love. Their support and closeness can minimize the damage done by strong, sometimes hurricane-force, winds of heartache or loss.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! Philippians 4:1 NIV
Climate conditions help, but why else do redwood trees live so long and stay so strong?
It turns out their inner core is protected from fire by the thickness of their bark. Plus, the tannin in that bark protects it from termites that normally attack and eat away at wood.
What protects us from the fires we face in life and the eternal fire? Not the bark on a tree, but the One crucified on it.
What protects our inner core? When we accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness and love, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Daily we still choose how to face the world but with God’s help.
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 NIV
Like giant fingers stretching to touch heaven, a grove of redwoods points us to look upward.
We imagine the height of the heavens. We sense our smallness.
We experience a lesson God planted for us in nature.
What memorable experience have you had in a forest or on a trail?
What are you stretching for in this season of life?
How protected is your inner core?
How have you grown spiritually this year?
Remember…Life Is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™