As one begins yet another health quest, there’s something vital each must do to be successful: develop a personal support system. Surrounding yourself with trusted family and friends is essential. And not just any support system – develop one as strong and powerful as the Redwood Forest!
Have you ever had the privilege as I have, of meandering through the magnificent Redwood National Forest in northern California? As you gazed at those majestic 350 foot tall trees towering above you, you probably thought as I did: Wow, their roots must tunnel 50 ft. into the earth!
Amazingly, that’s not the case. Their roots are only a few feet deep! The next logical question one would ask is: So what’s to prevent them from toppling over and being destroyed when disaster strikes? Support.
As Christians we should emulate the Redwoods innate support system when trials occur in our lives.
1. Since the root system is actually shallow, the tree’s root structure supports each other by interlocking their shallow roots with the other Redwoods surrounding them. When under duress, the older trees buttress each other by developing roots on the downward side of those under stress. The younger trees are bolstered up by the older ones, thus supporting the younger generation.
When we know someone is struggling to become healthier in mind, body and spirit, do we encourage or hinder them? Do we strengthen them with the Word of God or only criticize, allowing them to struggle on their own? Can we uphold them by sharing our experiences, offering wise counsel or a church home? If So – Do So.
2. The second truth I learned was that when exposed to fire, these trees develop a heat shield. The charring of the bark actually makes them stronger!
Have life experiences strengthened you? Some of you have gone through the worst that man can dish out; drug, mental or sexual abuse, divorce, abandonment, cancer or other health obstacles, but you’re inwardly strong and still standing! Why? Chances are you were surrounded by a strong support system.
Everyone needs an advocate. If you’re attempting a healthier lifestyle, you shouldn’t go it alone no matter how strong and powerful you believe you are. No one climbs Mt. Everest without support and some of you might be thinking that losing weight is an enormous endeavor to undertake as well. All of us need close friends whom we can totally trust and confide in.
3. A fallen Redwood will ultimately branch out and continue to grow. Still useful; its roots become other trees.
What this teaches us is to never give up simply because we get knocked down or face trials! Overcoming adversity and temptation makes us stronger, wiser and more confident. Use those life skills to help others because God bestowed them on us for a reason.
God will not abandon us. He provides common-sense ways out of our predicament. As it states in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (KJV)
4. Just as in life, some young trees won’t survive, but many more do because of the support of older trees. After obtaining your goals, reach out to others who might need your expertise and encouragement. Be a shining example of resiliency. Young Redwoods are more vulnerable, similar to young Christians. Even Billy Graham rebelled as a youth. He didn’t become Billy Graham overnight.
5. Surprisingly, the chemical composition of the bark is distasteful and even poisonous to termites and other pests! Let’s develop a ‘Bodily Armor of God’ so strong that even the pesky demons don’t dare to bother us!
In our humanity, occasionally trials, temptations and failure will occur. Real friends won’t judge or ridicule, nor will they allow a friend to destroy themselves. We don’t need more “yes men”, we need friends who will speak the truth in love, not what our itchy ears want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” (ESV)