The powerful north winds were howling. From indoors, I watched as dead palm fronds became airborne missiles, and were propelled into the side of the house. Down the street from us, brittle tree limbs began snapping off from the forces of wind and driving rain.
My grown children and I had prepared for the hurricane that was rapidly approaching. We had food, water, batteries, extra gasoline, solar-powered lights, and we had installed metal plates over our windows to guard them from flying debris. All our lawn furniture, and outdoor potted plants had been moved into the garage. Then we waited, and trusted God for His protection.
As we read Psalm 91, and claimed those reassuring promises, we felt a growing sense of peace. People living on the right side of the storm were being battered by 150 mph winds. We knew that if our electricity stayed on, we could remain in contact with family and friends. As the hours ticked by, we used the time to put jigsaw puzzles together, play card games, cook, and to pray. We felt almost guilty as we enjoyed our incredible sense of peace, because we knew that many people were feeling fearful for their lives, and the destruction of their properties.
After two days, Hurricane Ian left our area. The cities south of us had been devastated by water surges of 9 to 13 feet. We called to check on our friends who lived about 50 miles away in the countryside. They needed gasoline for their generator. We had 5 gallons of gas to share, but they needed 20. My daughter volunteered to find gas for them. We set out to help them, but as we drove, we found that every station we saw had signs that read OUT OF GAS. The closer we came to their house, the more storm-caused devastation we observed. It was difficult to believe! Powerlines were down. Metal barn roofs had been ripped off and were crumpled like aluminum foil around the trunks of trees. Some trees were snapped in half and had splintered as easily as toothpicks. Mature trees had been completely uprooted and now lay at angles along the ground. Roots that had for years drawn water and nutrients from the soil, now lay withering and dying in the sunlight. The sight of such ruined beauty was distressing to us. We knew that the people in these nearby houses had survived the category 4 storm, but would they ever be able to forget the terrifying sound of the hurricane that had come rushing at them like a freight train?
For days afterwards I thought about what I had seen, and the experience of my own family. I wondered why some trees had been completely uprooted, while others had been snapped in two. I knew that the Florida Peninsula had poor soil made of clay, silt, and sand. As I looked for more information, I learned that palm trees search for moisture by growing a root system that is horizontal instead of downward. Their roots seek rainwater just below the surface, or water from lawn sprinklers. Deep watering is needed for survival. Weak, shallow root systems are invitations to easy destruction.
Can we apply this example to our spiritual lives? According to God’s Word, the answer is, “yes.” The apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians states: “And now just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT).
This relationship is like a root system that reaches deep for water. The “living water” can only be given by Jesus. In John chapter 4:7-11 we find the story of a woman of Samaria who came to the village well for water. Jesus asked her for a drink of water.
“Then the woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’
The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?’” (NKJV).
She did not know that the one she was talking with was the Living Water. What He would give her was spiritual water to sustain her forever.
We all need physical and God-centered water daily. Our spiritual “roots” need to draw life and strength from having a deep, personal relationship with Jesus. Through time in prayer, and taking in the understanding of His Word, our “rootfulness” in Him will hold us fast in the stormy times of life. Though we may be shaken, we will never be uprooted!
… “That they might be called, trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3 (KJV)