November 16

"Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock." —Matthew 7:24 (RSV)

Last year I took a walk along a familiar, beloved logging road cut through the middle of a tree farm in North Carolina.

The root systems of most of the trees were, of course, hidden below the forest floor. One old specimen, however, had grown at the top of the road cut along which I walked. Its roots were exposed, and I was fascinated to see its now-revealed secret life. Its taproot traveled downward looking for water, corkscrewing and burrowing, dividing and wrapping itself around a huge buried boulder.

This morning, I took the same walk again, but now my visit was a sad one, for a storm had ravaged the area. Weeks of rain had been followed by strong winds. Hundreds of trees had come down and were now strewn haphazardly across the forest floor like spilled matches. Almost without exception, the trees that had been felled by the storm showed root systems that spread sideways a few feet and then stopped. When the winds came, they had nothing to hold them up.

But my gnarled old tree, the one with roots that dug deep into the soil, the one that wrapped itself around a rock, that old tree still stood.

Father, help me to dig ever deeper and wrap myself around You, so that when the storms come I may still be standing.

—John Sherrill