Oh, To Be a Tree!



By: Susan Toadvine

     From my childhood until now, I have always loved trees. I loved to lie under the tree and listen to the breeze gently flowing through the leaves and feel the comfort it provided from the heat of the sun. In our travels, I have always noticed trees with interesting root systems. Some of them are gnarled and twisted, but still portray a picture of strength.

From what I read in the Word of God, I believe that God likes trees too! In Psalms 1, He likens the blessed person whose delight is in the Law of the Lord to a tree that is planted by the streams of water, is fruitful and whatsoever they do prospers! Ezekiel compared Assyria to the cedars in Lebanon that had beautiful branches that overshadowed the forest, towering on high. He said in Ezekiel 31:3-7 how the waters nourished it and deep springs made it grow tall. Verse five states that it towered higher than all of the trees of the field, increased, grew, and spread because of its abundant water source. He states in verse six that all of the birds of the sky nested in its boughs, all of the animals of the wild gave birth under its branches, and all of the great nations lived in its shade. Verse seven states that it was majestic in beauty FOR ITS ROOTS WENT DOWN TO THE ABUNDANT WATERS! It was rooted! Just as we can be rooted because we have an abundant Source!!

Speaking of trees, you will notice during storms, that some trees quickly lose their branches from the force of the wind or the weight of ice. Some even crack and break during storms. With some, the ripping of the branches can actually destroy the tree altogether, bringing death to the tree. The palm tree, however, can bend nearly to the ground from the force of hurricane winds and then when the wind passes, it stands back up in beauty. In reading about the palm tree, it is noted that the roots of a palm tree can sometimes stretch for great distances continually reinforcing itself in the ground, adding strength to its stature. As I faced a current storm in my life, I determined to make sure that my roots were deep in the Word of God and that my prayer life daily increased my strength. Without that, I would break easily and the storms could quickly destroy me and my spiritual life.

My husband and I have always marveled at the huge sequoia trees that we saw in California. Some had trunks so large that cars could drive through them, simply massive. They stretched so high to the sky that the treetop itself was barely visible to us standing below. We took many photographs standing by the trunks, and we were so small in comparison to their magnitude. However, we noticed something as we walked through the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. Huge trees, with massive trunks were laying on their sides. I was thinking, “Why would they have fallen? They have such huge strength in their trunks!” But when we stopped to look at the fallen trees, we quickly noticed something. The actual root system did not have a lot of depth. Many of the roots gnarled back into the base of the tree. If it had large root systems, there would have been lots of root material showing as they were ripped from the ground. But as we walked by, you could see hardly any root material. The magnitude of the trunk did not really matter when the storms and wind hit. The roots were just not there to give it the support it needed.

As we walk through life, we face many storms. The true test is how strong are our roots? Do we waiver and nearly topple when a big crisis hits? Or can we tolerate the storms and the heat and still offer shelter to others going through storms? A tree’s branches will waiver, but when the tree is rooted, the tree will still stand during the toughest of times. When there is a drought, the roots of the tree can keep it hydrated. Sometimes we go through dry places in our own lives where it is hard to see God’s direction in our lives or feel His Spirit leading us. It is then that our roots will sustain us.

Are we fruitful? Jesus spoke about the trees that were not fruitful. They were to be cut down and destroyed. He instructed us to show fruit….fruit of the Spirit should be manifest in our lives daily. What does it mean to truly be fruitful? I think I have a seen a small peek into what He meant by being fruitful.

Sometimes in our lives we go through extremely trying times. Our family has just faced a real crisis again as my son, Devin, relapsed for the third time with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. We were not given much hope for survival, which is very difficult to hear. Crisis will quickly tell you how deep the roots go. Storms of life can completely destroy us or they can just reinforce the fact that our roots run deep and will keep us safe!

I recently have spent weeks at a time at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center. The general atmosphere of this particular unit can be very heavy with sadness and uncertainty. We have had it ourselves during certain moments. As I have walked the halls and made friends with many of the patients and caregivers and medical staff, I am reminded of the wonderful root system that I have and I feel so grateful to a God that gives moment by moment strength. It has helped us to be able to be a comfort to others that are suffering here. It has helped me to be able to speak peace into the lives of families! Just walking down the hall and giving a smile to someone who is hurting can be such an uplift and encouragement. I am reminded daily that I am here to show the love of Jesus to someone and bring hope even while dealing with crisis ourselves. That is the blessing of being rooted. God, help me every day to remember that YOU have placed me wherever I am to bring hope to the hopeless, speak peace to the troubled, and share YOUR love with every person I meet! Let me be a tree that is rooted, grounded and fruitful! And most of all, someone that You can be proud of regardless of what life brings my way! Oh, to be a tree!



Suzi Toadvine lives in Chesterton, Indiana with her husband, Rick Toadvine.  She has two children, Devin, 31, and Danae, 29.   Suzi has been a mortgage banker for over 25 years and she also leads the music department at the Portage United Pentecostal Church. 


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