Trees: God’s Model for Fruit Bearing
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. (Psalm 96:12 NLT)
The summer storm was typical for a Georgia evening. It passed quickly and cooled the air without causing any noticeable damage. But a few hours later, I heard the dreaded crack, whoosh and thump as one of our trees succumbed to the deluge of rain and toppled over in the storm’s aftermath. The young tree’s root system was simply not deep enough to anchor it in the eroding soil.
I’ve been thinking a lot about trees since moving to our wooded lot in Georgia. The trees on our property provide beautiful blooms in the spring, cooling shade in the summer, and vibrant color in the fall. During the quiet winter months, the majestic pines take center stage, providing a soft green canopy overhead and cushiony pine needle floor underfoot. Our little forest provides interest and purpose with each new season. So when I met Kathy during a Deeper Life coaching group, I was excited to begin learning more about trees.
Kathy is a Master Gardener. She not only loves trees, but through her work has gained deeper insight into their biblical significance. She is a self-described “Tree Hugger of tree Scriptures.” The more she shared her discoveries with me, the more I was able to relate “tree principles” to the Deeper Life process we discuss in our coaching groups.
The Bible contains multiple verses that describe a tree’s significance and purpose. For now, we’ll look at the first three verses of Psalm 1 to help understand a “tree-like” life:
Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)
How can we be like trees – bearing fruit without withering, and prospering in all we do? The Deeper Life book describes the principles and practices that are vital to a fruit bearing life. This process helps you answer life’s core questions and develop a plan for living out the answers. In order to enjoy a fruitful life, we must begin with healthy roots.
“Fruit bearing” starts with “root caring.”
The Deeper Life begins with an examination of a believer’s “root system.” Just as a tree has a “tap-root” which anchors it deep underground, we, too, need to be deeply rooted into the soil of God’s promises and allow His truth to be absorbed into the core of our soul.
Do you ever feel tapped-out? Mentally exhausted and withered? In need of a little room to breathe? Trees can experience this, too. The growth of a tree’s roots can be restricted by soil compaction—resulting in a reduction of air pockets around the roots. As the root system suffocates, a tree’s ability to anchor itself is compromised. Like a barely rooted tree, our lives can become compacted by the busyness of daily demands and distractions. The “air” we need for our own soul’s satisfaction and stability will continue to grow scarce without daily renewal in God’s presence. In order to find room to stretch and grow spiritually, we need to be tapped-in to God’s power supply. He is our Taproot, nourishing and strengthening us with an unlimited supply of Living Water. (See John 15:5-8)
The root system of a mature oak tree can transport over 50 gallons of water per day up into the trunk, through the branches and ultimately to the tree’s crown. Without the continual flow of water through the roots, a tree simply cannot grow and produce fruit. Paul emphasizes the importance of growing deep roots in his letter to the Colossians:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
A life of overflow springs from a theology rooted in the truth of God. Our theology, or what we believe about God, ultimately shapes our identity, forms our sense of purpose and defines our real values in life. Our values determine our priorities. Our priorities are implemented by our goals. Goals are accomplished by our stewardship of time. And all of this when understood clearly and embraced daily, results in a legacy of fruitful living that really matters. But it begins with our roots. While the root system might be hidden from view, the evidence of its health is ultimately revealed.
A few years ago my husband and I toured New Orleans’ City Park. As the guide described the devastation to the park from Hurricane Katrina, he shared an interesting story with us. City Park is home to the largest collection of mature live oak trees in the world, with the oldest trees between 600 and 800 years old. These massive trees survived the winds and flood that destroyed so much of that city. While the park lost about 1,000 trees, 13,000 others survived. The secret? Their deep roots. These incredible trees even surprised horticulturists by putting out new growth at a time of year when they should have been dropping leaves.
With deep roots, we can endure storms, prevent withering, and bear seasonal fruit. We can even overflow with thankfulness to encourage and strengthen others. Did you know that trees can help sustain their forest friends through their root system? In his book, “The Hidden Life of Trees,” Peter Wohlleben describes how the stumps of felled trees can be kept alive when their roots are connected to those of companion trees. The healthy trees will share sugar and nutrients with their fallen friends, helping them to sprout new growth. No wonder trees of the forest sing for joy! They understand the secret to living a deeper life.
Brenda Brown is co-author with Daniel Henderson of the book, The Deeper Life. As a Deeper Life Coach, she enjoys helping women like Kathy develop a strategic plan for daily renewal. Brenda is currently helping with a new Deeper Life project to be released in early 2020. As for Kathy, she credits The Holy Spirit for opening her eyes in a new way after listening to Pastor Al Toledo’s teaching on trees.