When I was a teenager, a tree fell on our house. I remember the crack, the earsplitting crash, and enormous tree roots sticking out of the ground like it was yesterday. Thankfully, the damage was minor and no one was hurt. In what can only be described retrospectively as “preparation for 2020,” we decorated the fallen tree with ornaments and called it our “Christmas tree.”
This year has seen unprecedented hardships. For many of us, we feel the one-two punch. Externally, the façade of control we pretend to exert over our lives crumbles. Internally, we face the turmoil of increased isolation, anxiety, uncertainty, and loss.
How do you respond to the storms? Do you have a strong foundation or get blown over?
Not unlike this poor tree, perhaps we are not victims of a single storm or an acute crisis, per say. Rather, we experience the dangerous accumulation of repeated exposure to sin, brokenness, and suffering over time. In the midst of unprecedented instability, our troubles can feel overwhelming. Jesus talks about the importance of building a strong foundation upon the rock that will withstand the storms (Matthew 7:24-27). So, friends, let us consider ways to establish our firm foundation in Christ as we look forward to the year ahead.
We mustn’t let our foundations erode. You see, the not-so-minor-detail I failed to mention was the giant sinkhole stretching across the length of our yard. With every rainfall, the runoff slowly eroded away the tree’s foundation. In the same way, sin over time wreaks havoc on our relationship with God. I find myself allowing fear, worry, and hypervigilance to slowly carve away my faith. But our Savior and Living Hope is on the throne, friends. Colossians 1:23 says, “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.” Our assurance in Christ’s atoning sacrifice means we have a strong and eternal foundation that cannot be swept away.
Be deeply rooted in God’s Truth. For such a huge tree, the roots spread out wide but surprisingly did not go as deep as I would have imagined. Just like shallow roots cannot stabilize the tree the way God intended, we cannot fully walk in God’s calling if we fail to firmly root our identity in Christ.
Sometimes fear, doubt, discontentment, complacency, or mistrust prevents us from rooting ourselves deeply in God’s truth and plan for our lives. In our striving, we inevitably fail to control what is meant to be surrendered to God. When we humbly surrender our will to God, we give Him full authority of the spiritual gifts He has given us. Ephesians 3:17 reminds us that “Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will go down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Allow God to restore and stabilize. To be honest, we know our yard has weak areas in its landscape. When we identify sin issues eroding our foundation, it is only a matter of time before we see the consequences. As a recovering perfectionist, it is easy for me to let the relentless striving for control take over my life. Our experiences such as pain, sickness, anger, shame, doubt, pride, depression, addiction, or trauma reveal our brokenness and the need for God to save us. It isn’t too late to allow God to restore and stabilize. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
I don’t mean to say that God will always make our troubles disappear. Instead, James tells us to have joy because “the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3). In the midst of the world’s brokenness, we see restoration when the Kingdom of God comes down to earth as our hearts, minds, and actions realign with the will of our Heavenly Father.
Maybe your Christmas tree looks different this year. Decorate anyway! God is still good in the middle of the storm. May this coming year be a time of restoring and realigning our foundations built upon the immovable, unchanging promises of God.
Praying for you to stand firm,