“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
We have two lovely jacquemontii birch trees that have been in our front yard for 20 years. They are my favorites for two reasons: I love the brilliance of their bright bark in the Winter and the graceful sweep of their tiny-leafed branches as they drape my windows in the Spring. They have been babied through the seasons ever since they were planted, tended by my husband who wrapped one in a plastic bag to ‘repair’ it during the last ice storm over 10 years ago.
What is it, I wondered, about trees that gives them the wherewithal to withstand too much weight and stress, too much brutal wind and cold? How could they bounce back after that kind of load?
As I often do when I need the facts, I turned to my trusty World Book Encyclopedia (c. 1956). I love metaphors and the words about trees got me thinking:
“The fastest growing part of a tree is hidden in the ground.”
When you’re walking with Jesus, life may not look like it’s going along swimmingly on the outside, but looks can be deceiving. I have been aware more than ever lately of digging deep in my faith and trust in Jesus.
“The roots are an earth machine that operates in darkness and dampness.”
The roots grow best – like a ‘machine!’- in darkness and dampness. Being in the dark–not knowing the way forward or being clueless about where I am right now doesn’t faze God one bit. In fact, my life grows best in the dark times. Wow.
“The chief water-collecting part of the root system is made up of tiny, pearly-white hairs called root hairs—A root hair is as fine as a spider’s thread.”
A spider’s thread is as fine, finer than spun silk, and strong, very strong. (Have you ever tried to walk through a spider web?)
“Root hairs grow just back of the tip of a root. They appear suddenly wherever there is moisture.”
Lightbulb moment! Growth comes from living water. Thirsty? Dry? Dig down deep(er).
“The real feeders of the tree are very small, mere threads; the bulky muscular roots are for strength; its life is in the rootlets that fringe them…”
Life is in the rootlets that fringe them. Think of it, small, thread-like tentacles, digging down deep, searching for water.
I want to be like that--welcoming to grow unseen ‘underground’, unafraid of the dark when it comes, and embracing my thirst for God because it drives me to Him.
No wonder Scripture says to be like a tree “rooted and established in love.”
When life is difficult and dark and demanding, dig down deep.
You’ll bend instead of break, buried beliefs bearing beauty in your branches.
What kind of tree are you?
this is a significantly edited version of a post from
February 2012, when I was in the dark about a lot of things…