About 10 years ago my family went on a trip to the UP to stay on Lake Muskellonge at the State Campground. It was our first time dragging a camper that far, and we had a ton of fun. While we were there, we drove down to Munising to do something we had wanted to do, but for the first time we were close enough to do it. We took a trip on the Pictured Rocks boat tour.
Some of you might say, “So what? You rode a boat and looked at rocks.” Yep. We did. But we got to see some amazing things on that rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. There are a lot of really pretty cliffs, caves, waterfalls, and formations. We were able to see the amazing beauty of God’s creation and the power that it holds as well. We also got to see something else… A tree!
Yes, dear Reader, I am going to talk to you about a tree again…
This tree has stuck in my mind since that trip, and while I was first in amazement at what I saw, now I am even more amazed at the lesson God has given me in that tree.
So, about this tree. This white pine stands alone on the top of Chapel Rock. There is almost no topsoil on this rock, and no source of water. There is absolutely no reason this tree should be alive. Or is there? If you look very closely in the pictures below, you will see what looks like a branch that reaches from chapel rock back to the mainland. That branch is actually the root of the tree.
Back in the 1940’s there was a sandstone arch that bridged the gap between Chapel Rock and the mainland. The arch finally fell due to the power of the rain, waves, and wind that battered it every winter. When the arch fell, somehow, the root of that tree remained. As time went on it thickened and hardened, and now is the lifeline for that tree.
As you can see, the tree is healthy and green, showing no signs of distress some 70+ years later. How long will it stay? Who can tell? All I know is that 10 years ago I saw that tree and thought how neat it was that it had been just the right distance from the edge that it was not pulled off. I thought how amazing it was that the tree had been able to get enough root in to survive.
Now, I see a symbol of not just a relentless desire to live, but to grow as well!
That tree is bigger now than it was 70 years ago. In circumstances that seem impossible, it has not only held tough and refused to die, it has grown! It might be separated from its life-giving food and water by empty space, but it has continued to do what it was made to do – GROW!
So, what makes that tree speak to me? I think we are alike in a few different ways:
We both had a great start
I grew up in church and accepted Christ at a young age. I started to put down my spiritual roots and grow. There were times I felt all alone, but still knew that I was connected to God and things would be alright.
We both saw a huge disaster
My faith was seriously shaken in my teenage years through some things that happened in my church. I saw things that I had thought to be solid, crumbling around me, and eventually I lost everything that I had known in my church life. I lost friends, and I lost a lot of hope. I was still connected to God, but it felt tenuous at best.
We both survived
As time went on, I began to see that the things I had depended on before were not what had been giving me what I needed to survive in the first place. While the people and the familiar surroundings had been nice, they strength I needed for spiritual life was not in them, but in the person of God.
We both grew
As my focus turned more to that lifeline back to God, I began to look to His Word for leading and instruction in wisdom. He spoke to me through His Word and gave me opportunities to do things that stretched me. There were rough times, but there were a lot of good times too. Times that I can look back on and see as pivotal moments in my faith journey.
I have adopted a picture of that tree not only as the header picture for this blog, but also as a reminder of the relentless life I want to live. There are things in life that are hard, that hurt, things that seem insurmountable. Without a strong tie to God, they would be.
I now see my relationship with God as being the most important thing to keep me on track in my life. I have to be unyielding in my pursuit to know Him better and to be more like Him.
If I want to be strong, healthy, and growing, I need to be connected to God. That connection cannot just be in order to live because that is short-changing the power that God wants to put to work in my life.
I might stand alone on a rock in the eyes of many, but my strength comes from my tie to God.
Be Relentless and Grow!
In His Grip,