Sermon Illustrations - Tag: strength
Posted by Douglas on Jun 23, 2010

Recently I saw something that reminded me of the importance of having roots that go down deep: a toppled tree with very shallow roots.

On top of North Sugarloaf Mountain in New Hampshire, the trees can't put down their roots very deep...presumably because the soil is so rocky. There's probably a granite slab a couple feet under the soil. The result is that instead of putting down deep roots, the tree's roots spread out just under the surface.

When the high winds come (and believe me, they get very high winds in the White Mountains!), even though the tree is alive, it has no stability in its roots to withstand the blast. The result is tragic for the tree; it simply tips over, exposing the underside of its very shallow root system.

I began thinking then of how very much like us this tree is. For us, it is tempting to put down very shallow roots in our lives. Why? Because shallow roots are easier. They don't require as much work.

They don't require us to put off what we want in order to gain what we need. They don't require us to choose obedience in difficult circumstances, only the easy ones. They don't require us to choose honesty even when we know it will hurt us. They don't require us to choose compassion over unkindness. They don't require us to choose humility over pride. They don't require us to choose a strong work ethic over laziness or procrastination. They don't require us to have patience over grasping what we want now. They don't require us to choose generosity over selfishness.

For many of us, life is more about finding what is convenient, fun, and enjoyable, rather than choosing what is right no matter what the circumstances, and no matter what the cost. This is the way of shallow roots. If I choose the easy way over the right way, maybe no one but me will notice that I'm not living the way I should...but when the storms come, I won't be ready for them!

Remember this: a tree cannot wait for the storm to come before it puts down deep roots; then it is already too late. Put down deep roots now, so when the storm comes, you'll be unmovable and unshakable.

Posted by Douglas on Feb 18, 2006

When I was a kid, our house had a kitchen and a dining room, and there was a wall, with a doorway, between the two.

That wall is no longer there. At some point while I was growing up, my parents decided they'd had enough of that wall. They wanted to have one large, wide open room, instead of two smaller rooms.

So dad took a sledgehammer to the wall and knocked it out. Of course, when they built the house in the first place, they knew that someday they might want to get rid of that wall, so they were careful to build the house in such a way that this wall was not a load-bearing wall. It was supporting nothing. Nothing else anywhere in the house depended on it. It was, in a nutshell, useless.

The book of Ephesians tells us this:

2:19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)

1 Peter 2:4 adds to this image by telling us that we are not just stones in a building, but we are living stones, growing together as God has fitted us together.

But as God is building His house, He is not putting in any useless stones. There is no part of His church that He could point at and say, "That living stone there doesn't support anything. Nothing else in My house depends on that living stone. That living stone is, in a nutshell, useless. I could take a sledgehammer to that living stone and it wouldn't affect anything else in the building."

We are all "load bearing" in the church. God has fit us together perfectly, designing each of us to bear and carry a load which was specifically designed for us. Galatians tells us this:

6:5For each will have to bear his own load.Galatians 6:5 (ESV)
 

The good news is that the load is not an unbearable load; Jesus said in Matthew:

11:30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:30 (ESV)

In 1 John, John reiterates these words by assuring his readers that:

5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.1 John 5:3 (ESV)

The loads we are each given are not unbearable, or unreasonable. But they are our burdens to carry. And in carrying our own load, we support and strengthen all the other living stones in the building with us, strengthening the entire structure. It is an exciting realization to understand that we are fitted so perfectly together by God, but with that realization comes an exciting responsibility as well -- to build up, strengthen, and support the living stones all around us, who shoulder their loads side by side with us.

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