It’s easy in life to be overwhelmed. Life’s situations can come from all directions and all at once, quickly taking you from a sense of being on top of the world to looking for the nearest rock to hide under. When fears and doubts creep up, they can quickly tear us down and make us question every decision we make and thought we have.
Strength is a term that seems to have different meanings for different people. Yet, we often use the word in the same contexts. I tell my little boy all the time he is so strong when he is pushing open a door. I tell my wife she is a strong mom as she actively works to raise our children together in a Godly home. We use the word strong, but we apply its meaning based on the current context we are in. Mental, physical, emotional; all areas we each need strength in.
But what about the spiritual?
See, what I have learned in my short life so far is that my physical, emotional and mental strength will never be adequate apart from deep rooted spiritual strength in Jesus Christ. I can spend my days working out (and if you know me, that’s not my jam), reading and studying till I fall asleep at the desk, or going through exercises to gain better control over my emotions. But that time, while it might seem fruitful on the outside, will be spent in vain if I am in spiritual decay. If my faith in Jesus is weak, all other aspects of my life will be too.
I recently got back from some traveling in the South, and while I was there I took some pictures of the popular Live Oak trees that populate the region I was in. I found myself fascinated by their size. The ones I photographed are estimated to be 250-500 years old! Their trunks are over 25 feet around, and while not very tall they are spread out over 100 feet. These trees are massive!
They are also incredibly strong.
Their root systems are immense, going deep and wide to support themselves. They provide shade and shelter from the hot southern sun. But more impressive than what they do is what they have been through.
Storms. Hurricanes. Intense heat. Floods.
These trees over the last several hundred years have been battered and abused by the elements of nature, and yet they have stood strong and secure in their place. Each one started as a small seed, something we might consider insignificant. But with time, they grew deep, developing in strength under the earth with an incredible root system. See, their outward appearance is impressive, but it wouldn’t be possible if what you can’t see below the ground didn’t exist.
Our spiritual health as a Believer is more important than any other aspect of our life. The majesty of the Live Oak brought that home for me.
When we neglect our spiritual development in Jesus Christ, everything else we do is in vain. While the world may give it value, in the eyes of God it has none. Our physical, emotional and mental strength can only sustain us so long. They do not provide the longevity, they do not posses the stamina we require to truly weather the storms we face in life.
Paul’s words to the church in Philippi encourage me to put priority to my spiritual development, to place the growth and wellbeing of my faith in Jesus Christ above all other areas of my life.
“Therefore my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”Philippians 4:1
Paul has just finished writing to them about joining him in the ultimate pursuit: living a holy life, striving to imitate their Savior Jesus Christ. Paul knew that his fellow Believers would face hardship, and that what would ultimately be tested was not their intellect or physical strength. It would be their heart. Like deep roots of an old Live Oak tree support the immense weight and size above the ground, Paul is encouraging Believers to stand firm in Jesus Christ by way of a deep rooted faith in Jesus Christ. So when the storms of life come, the hurricane and destructive forces of nature roll into your life, you can stand firm and weather the storm.
You might be tired, maybe even a little bruised. But you will be standing firm and secure because your roots are deep.