One of the most grounding places I have ever been is Sequoia National Park. My first solo trip there was maybe five years ago when I was just settling into my second year of a new appointment and taking stock of the life and ministry I wanted to build in my new(ish) home and role.
While Sequoias are all so impressive with their unimaginable height and unbelievable breadth (did you know East Coasters used to think they were a “California Hoax?!”), there was one tree in particular that actually brought me to tears. There, standing in one of the groves, was a tree that had burned from the inside. The trunk was hallowed from the ground to a place maybe fifty feet high where half of the tree had fallen, but the other half continued right on stretching skyward. Its roots, anchored deep, continued nourishing and stabilizing it in spite of its brokenness and scars.
I believe that our faith can be for us these life-sustaining, stabilizing roots. Our connection to God, and to one another in God, as well as our hope for new life to come, can provide for us this kind of assurance that no matter what kind of suffering or brokenness we face, we will continue to survive, to stand, to grow.
I fear that sometimes we focus too much on the parts of our faith that people can see—its height and breadth and even its fruits—forgetting that these things are born from tending to strong and healthy roots that give us resilience and hope. And if we are lucky enough to have established this kind of rootedness for ourselves, it can be our gift to one another, to encourage this deepening and strengthening of faith in others.
I look forward to another Sunday together, feeding on God’s word, and growing together in the Spirit.