Thursday, October 2, 2008


Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Ike, most of Houston has returned to some semblance of business-as-usual. The towns directly on the coast are another matter; many of them were left in shambles that will take months to rebuild. Or regrow--many natural areas were equally hard-hit. Even well inland, we suffered no shortage of broken branches and toppled trees.

On the other hand, we still have plenty of greenery left. Why will one tree stand through eighty-mile-an-hour winds while another tree snaps in two? Sometimes one tree is simply more flexible than the other. Sometimes one tree is surrounded by other trees and/or man-made structures that serve as windbreaks, while another tree stands exposed on all sides. And sometimes the unbroken tree is anchored by a firmer foundation--roots that go deep and spread wide.

All of which are good points for humans to remember when facing the emotional storms of life. Stubbornly refusing to accept either unchangeable circumstances or support from other people is a good way to increase our chances of snapping under strain. And we feed that attitude--and a host of other problems--if we sink our spiritual roots in the shallow promises of this world rather than in God. When we catch ourselves agreeing with such ideas as "You can do anything if you believe in yourself," "Financial security is the answer to everything," and "Think of yourself first and others second," it's a sure sign that our roots are pulling out of God's promises to creep into shallow, non-nourishing worldly soil. The only way back is to break out the "spade" of God's Word and prayer.

However, even a tree with its roots in the right place is likely to lose a few branches when the storm does come. The key difference between a merely battered tree and a completely uprooted one is that the first is "alive" and the second is "dead."

Once the worst is over, will your spirit be alive and ready to put out new growth--or dead and completely broken?

A hurricane blew through last night,
And when I rose today
I found a world of fallen trees
That blocked each path and way.
The shallow roots of younger trees
Had been the first to fail,
For only roots that sink down deep
Withstand the mighty gale.

When hurricanes blow through your life--
The storms of grief and pain--
How deeply rooted is your soul?
Can it endure the strain?
Will it still stand when storms are past,
Or will it broken lie,
A rotting and despairing trunk
Beneath a leaden sky?

Sink deep your roots into God's soil
Before the storm draws near,
And feed your life on faith and hope
And love that casts out fear,
And prayer and reading of God's Word:
Then, when a storm does land,
It still may pound and bruise your soul--
But, through the worst, you'll stand!

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