September 14, 2017

Wise Up! – Rough Weather Ahead

We heard a huge explosion, saw fireworks, and our house shook. But it wasn’t the Fourth of July!

We had just lived through two ginormous trees falling down—one large hunk of tree in our backyard (several feet from our home) and one entire massive tree blocking the road almost directly in front of our home. Apparently, both had been blown over by strong winds during a severe thunderstorm we had.

The local power company employee (the first to arrive on the scene) didn’t seem surprised at this. He told us, “Yep, I see this a lot! Although both trees look healthy from the outside, you don’t really know what’s on the inside—how strong they really are—until they’re hit, full force, with the elements. These two were rotten on the inside, and have been like that for a long time by the looks of it.”

How do we remain watered, connected, anchored?

Several hours later we had power again; and a day later, the trees were cut, cleaned, and removed. It was almost as if nothing had happened, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the power company employee said. Then God stuck a question in my mind: “As Christians, what kind of tree are we? Are we healthy, or rotten?”

Jesus, confronting Jewish spiritual leaders, had this to say to them, and to us: “You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show–offs. You’re like tombs that have been whitewashed. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. That’s what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good” (Matt. 23:27, 28, CEV[i]).

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey recently pummeling Texas and Louisiana—and Hurricane Irma devastating Florida and the Caribbean—everyday I receive e-mails and weather status reports about hurricane/severe weather safety preparations. I take them seriously, and prepare!

Jesus told a story about preparing for rough weather, those proverbial storms of life that are always around the corner (Matt. 7:24-29). He contrasted two people who prepared for those storms. The only difference was that only one of them made sure there was no rottenness inside. He was able to weather the storm successfully. What was the secret? He built his life upon Jesus. He not only listened (or read or heard) the words of Jesus, he actually put them into practice.

We can also have that same experience, and we don’t have to wait until the storms of life come. And I guarantee, they will come! Today is a great time to make sure that our insides match our outsides; that we are healthy both inside and out. Nobody wants to be like that toppled tree: look great externally, but internally, are actually rotten to their cores!

I love the word-picture the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, paints, when describing this same life situation:

“I, the Lord, have put a curse on those who turn from me and trust in human strength. They will dry up like a bush in salty desert soil, where nothing can grow. But I will bless those who trust me. They will be like trees growing beside a stream—trees with roots that reach down to the water, and with leaves that are always green. They bear fruit every year and are never worried by a lack of rain” (Jer. 17:5-8, CEV).

So how do we do it? How do we remain watered, connected, anchored? Well, Jesus spoke to that as well, and told about another tree—well, more of a branch and a vine (John 15:1-10). We just need to get and stay connected to Him. It’s simple in theory but not so easy in practice.

But it is possible! If we focus every day on seeking to stay connected to Jesus—to build on the Solid Rock, to sink our roots deep in Christ, we’ll be strongly and securely connected when storms strike.

Know Jesus, love Jesus, live Jesus!

Omar Miranda, a counselor and writer, lives with his family in unplain Plainville, Georgia.

[i] Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright ã American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.