When I walk in nature, I walk with God. Obviously, God is always walking with me, but I am often more aware of God’s presence when I am in nature. This photo gives me joy as I was walking in a garden with a good friend and it is a great memory. This photo convicts me as I see how hard the tree has worked reach the sun.
I mean, think about the root structure needed to support that tree. Think about the number years of consistent and prolonged growth in that direction the tree used to go in that direction, to get some of the sun. Think also of what the tree would look like if it had just stayed under the canopy of other trees. If you spend any time in the woods you know those spindly trees that have few leaves and never thrive. I am not a tree expert, but I would assume that the tree is at a greater risk of falling in a storm due to the angle of its growth, but it grew that direction regardless of that risk. (I know, it is a tree and it doesn’t think, but this is how I think!)
Roots. What are the roots that support me as I lean into God and God’s will for my life? Is it human striving, doing the best I can? Or is it being rooted and grounded in God’s love.
So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught. (Col. 2:6-7, CEB)
Get out of the canopy. How much of my life is spent under the canopy of others expectations? How much of my life is spent under the canopy of wasted time? Poor choices? Sin? How can I arrange my life so that I am not wasting away, living an anemic life, instead of the life God has for me?
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. (Heb. 12:1-2, CEB)
Lean. This tree is leaning to the sun. Yes, I will go there with the cheesy, but true, metaphor and say we need to lean to God’s Son, Jesus. I need to be all out. I need to lean into what God wants me to lean into. I need to lean into prayer. I need to lean into God’s word. I need to lean into living my life the way God wants me to. It usually tends to have me be off balance. It tends to be out of my comfort zone.
Joy. Success. Freedom. Exhilaration. As I reflect on times that leaning and overcoming my fear has been full of freedom and exhilaration, my first thought was the joy I used to receive slaloming behind my grandparents’ speedboat. The feel of the glassy water, the joy of successfully navigating a crisp turn, the delicate balance of leaning against the rope and balancing on a ski, going faster than my skill set would warrant—it is making me smile to think about it. Of course I remember the exhaustion of the walk up the 50+ steps to the house after skiing. I remember the wipeouts that got water in places water shouldn’t be. I remember the frustration of not being able to get the ski to do what I wanted it to. But I also remember the exhilaration. I remember the exhilaration.
I want this in my daily life now…not just as a memory, but in life. I want the exhilaration and I really think I will find it as I am rooted in God and as I lean into what God wants me to do. I pray that I will desire it enough that I am willing to put up with the hard work, the wipeouts, the learning of new skills.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19, CEB)
As I look back at the photo of the tree, I want to be that rooted; I want to lean towards the Son; I want the exhilaration of being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!