Sunday, July 25, 2010

How Deep Are Your Roots?

by Jennifer AlLee

When my husband and I decided to move our family to Las Vegas, we knew a lot of things about the weather. We knew it was pretty hot in the summer (112, anyone?) We knew it got pretty cool in the winter (we've had snow twice since we moved here). But what we didn't know was how incredibly windy it can get.

Maybe it's because Vegas is essentially one big valley, but the wind can swoop through with surprising velocity. Earlier this year, we had one of our wild and crazy storms. The kind with winds up to sixty miles an hour. The kind that makes the window blinds shake and shimmy, even though none of the windows are open. That's the kind of wind that almost always does damage. 

Because of the lack of water in the desert, tree roots remain fairly shallow. So when a wind comes up, there's not a whole lot to hang on to. Of course, the news reports that night were full of images of downed trees. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of my apartment the next morning to find a huge tree uprooted right outside my window. Thankfully, it fell in an open space and missed the building (angels working overtime, perhaps). But when I saw the roots, I ran back inside and grabbed my camera. This was just too good to miss.

As you can see, there's some kind of landscape material draped over the roots. That started out under the gravel as a weed deterrent. But now, take a look at the roots themselves. Those are pretty shallow roots for a tree that tall.

Remember that song, "Deep and Wide"? It's about a river, but the phrase applies to roots, too. When roots run deep and wide, the tree is anchored. When storms come, as storms always do, the tree has a foundation to stand against them.

With all this talk about roots and water and storms, I'm sure you can see where I'm going. We feed our spirits when we dig deep into God's Word, spend time with Him in prayer, and join in community worship. All these things extend our root system. They ground us, give us stability. And when the storms of life come, we may be battered and bruised, but by golly, we still stand.

When I was in my early twenties, I went through a nasty period of backsliding. Seriously bad stuff. But even when I was at my lowest, I knew God was there. (I kept pushing Him away, you see, and you can't push away somebody who doesn't exist.) Despite the way I was living at the time, years of praying and studying the Bible and singing in the church choir just wouldn't go away. My foundation was solid, even though I was building a house of cards on top of it. And when the house fell down, the foundation remained, ready and waiting for the Master Builder to put up something solid and lasting. Which He has.

Okay, I am now officially guilty of that writerly sin of mixing metaphors. But you get the point. And just in case, here's a word from Jesus to cement the whole thing:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)
How about you? Is your foundation strong? Are your roots deep? Have you gone through a time in your life when storms battered you, but you came out the other side? I think we all have. God bless you today as you live for Him and stand tall!

Photo credits:
Fallen tree - Jennifer AlLee
Palm tree - Morguefile -


  1. Ooooh! Mixing horticulture and scripture. cool.

    Seriously I appreciate your point about roots and I had the same experience. Got the roots going well in my teens, messed up, then had them waiting for me... ready to grow a new me. Thought I was going to say tree, didn't you?

    Thanks Jen!
    Sorry about your tree, though. :)

    And oh, yeah, I've messed up many times since then too but that's where pruning helps.

  2. Love your analogy, Jen. It's so true. Maybe it's why we need to be planted next to the living water. So our roots can go deep and establish us.

    Oh, and you'll be proud to know I deleted at least two 'that's' before I submitted this comment!

  3. Jennifer,
    Lovely post! I lived for two years at Fort Irwin, CA, in the desert. LV was a three hour drive toward civilization! :) The environment is so unique, yet God was truly present everywhere I looked. The bitter winter cold, the blazing summer sun, and the wind. Man and nature and God. Quite a combination.

    Love this web site. I'm signing up as a follower.

  4. Yay! Welcome, Debby!

    I'm a wretched gardener, but I once sprouted beans in the washing machine by mistake.
    Almost all plants begin with roots that are much, much longer than the sprouts we see above ground. We look and think nothing is happening, but below the surface, that plant is getting situated to withstand the elements.
    That's why those Word seeds we put in our children and teens are so crucial. While we may not see much fruit from them right away, they are creating that root foundation!
    Great post, Jen, thanks!

  5. Great way to start my Sunday, Jen. And so true. I needed it today: I'm guilty of allowing my roots to go unwatered lately. I appreciate the gentle reminder to drink the living water Jesus offers me.

  6. Hey Debby! So great to see you here!

    Gals, I'm not a gardener at all. I love the idea, but never have been good with the excecution. But there's a lot to learn from things that grow.

    Lisa, you pruned your comment of "that"s. Way to go! When I was writing this post I kept looking for them, too :+}

  7. Wow this is so true. This morning my Pastor was talking about darkness and light.However, what I got out of both of these was that I need to be rooted in Jesus so that whatever comes my focus will be on Him and not on what is around me.

  8. Lisa, I love the idea of getting planted near the living water. Much like Cottonwoods out west seem to mark a nearby stream.

    Niki, washing machine beans, huh?

    Hey, Debby! Great to see you here and we're thrilled to have you. By the way I really enjoyed finding the link to your interview for Georgia Romance Writers, on YouTube!

    Louise, makes me think of my plant biology classes. Roots always grow down, even if the plant is hung upside down. They just seem to know where they need to go.

    Happy new week, everybody!

  9. Louise, you've got it right - being rooted in Jesus is the only way to go!

  10. The first time I went on a mission trip I recall thinking I was like a sapling recently removed from a greenhouse. I thought I was so strong until I actually got out in the world and dealing with real life issues. Trust me, I grew some deeper roots real fast :)


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