Today I went to a park in the neighboring county called "Hell hollow wilderness area". Despite the name it really is a nice park. The ravine drops 100 feet down into what is called "Paine" creek. (I didn't know the name of the creek until I was doing research for this blog entry) You can walk down the 262 timber steps which put you right at the creek edge. After running up and down the steps twice, my goal was to find a nice spot up river to sit and eat my lunch. I normally would have gone home after church for a nap, but I have been wrestling with some things lately and I just don't know what to do. I don't ever remember a time, as a Christian, when I felt so helpless and unsure about what to do in my life. One of the worship leaders at church quoted psalm 46 this morning.
"God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling."
When I heard those words I had to stop myself from crying because although I felt unsure about so many circumstances in my life, this Psalm covered things like the "Earth giving way" and "mountains being moved into the heart of the sea". Were my problems that big? Most would say no, but they are big to me. And I will add that they are important to God.
As I walked toward my "perfect" picnic spot I ran into some trouble. The water was high enough that I couldn't find a place to cross without getting my feet wet. I tried a balancing act on some logs which then got me to some bigger rocks, but I eventually had no choice but to get wet if I was going to continue. I made it across to the other bank and I walked along the waters edge for probably a half mile. I was looking for the place where no one else had been, even imagining finding ancient Indian artifacts or a deposit of gold! As I continued it became clear to me that God was pointing things out to me that totally related to what I was going through personally.
I noticed some trees growing out of the side of the bank. One of the things that really stood out to me was how the roots were exposed due to the years of water rushing over the base of the tree eventually eroding the soil away. Although most of the roots were exposed, the tree continued to flourish and grow at an awkward angle. I began to meditate on this a bit, and here is what I concluded. we are that tree! Now before you think I am getting all hippy tree hugger on you let me finish. Like the tree, we too do not look like we should. Our lives are crooked and imperfect at best. The roots illustrate what we are holding on to in this world. The soil that was washed away represents those things which have no ability to help us cope in this life like jobs, status, money etc. These things are not eternal and will eventually be burnt up. Remember the name "Paine" creek? the water that washes away our hold on those things is a picture of the trials and tribulation that God allows in our lives. The good soil further in is obviously God. The roots of the tree sink deep into this soil providing water and nutrients and stability. John 15:5 "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." As you look at the picture above notice that there is nothing holding this tree to the bank except the roots. Even a normal tree in your yard looks somewhat stable because it stands straight up. You can't tell how strong the tree is just by looking at it. The roots could be very shallow, and one small breeze could knock it over. Not this tree! A tree hanging off the edge of a cliff with all the soil around its base washed away has no hope but the roots that run deep into the good soil. There were many other lessons that the Lord taught me today through His creation but I will save those for another day. Romans 1:20 "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made". To Him be the glory and may the Lamb that was slain receive full reward for His suffering!