I saw a spruce once, on a trail ride alongside Dutch Creek in the Alberta Rockies. From most points of view this spruce looked like any other spruce in the forest. I had ridden past it many times, my mind focused on more important things—like learning to control my horse while keeping track of the riders in front of me. It was my first time ever working as a wrangler and since I wasn’t the handiest with a horse yet I was often regulated to “drag” the tail end of the line. My only responsibilities were to stay on my horse, make sure no other rider fell behind , and to call ahead when a problem arose. Other than that, it was pretty boring.
I often would find myself dosing in my saddle as we plodded along, through some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. I know, I know. We never fully appreciate what’s in front of our nose until it’s gone. I would keep myself awake by munching on strawberry twizzlers. I had a constant supply in my saddle bag and since I rode drag, nobody caught on for the longest time, so I didn’t have to share, until my secret was found out. Then I switched to black licorice twizzlers, because only a handful of people in this world will eat those.
Okay, back on topic. This spruce was tall and full. Ordinary. Then one day, as my eyes floated around haphazardly as we rode the Dutch Creek trail for the umpteenth time that summer, I noticed that this tree wasn’t really attached to the earth like most trees. It was curved at the base of the trunk and really only connected to the river bank by four roots that spread out like fingers clinging by it’s fingernails.
I pulled my pony to a stop and took a harder look. Yep, it was definitely only exposed roots holding the tree up. The trunk curved out and then the tree grew straight up tall.
I was pretty impressed by the tenacity of that tree, to cling to life with it’s very roots laid bare and still be able to survive. So impressed was I, that this tree has remained in my memory as a testimony to persistence and true grit.
But just the other day, when life took another turn for the worse and it felt like the bottom was falling out yet again, I realized I had admired the wrong thing.
No matter how resolutely that tree was in holding onto the bank, it didn’t matter.
What I’m trying to say is, no matter how much grasping and clinging and tenacity and faith that tree had, if the bank was loose and sandy, when the floods of the creek inevitably rose, the bank would give way and that tree would fall, no matter how hard it clung. However if the bank was solid rock and the tree’s roots were firmly anchored within that rock, no amount of flooding would cause the bank to give way, and the tree would remain upright.
People tell me often they have faith.
It needs to be asked: what do you have FAITH IN?
No amount of strong faith or tenacity or persistence will hold you up when the bottom falls out. What matters is what your faith is anchored in.
My mind has changed in how I view that spruce. The spruce was ordinary and yet extraordinary because of what it’s roots were secured to.
It’s the rock I needed to turn my attention on. It’s then that I stopped and thought about what was anchoring me in my life. What is holding in me solid when life threatens to overwhelm? My go-to answer from an early age, has always been:
Jesus. He’s my Rock.
However, I’ve realized lately that in actuality, I’ve always pictured myself holding onto Christ. Grasping. Down to the fingernails. Clinging. My roots are laid bare. My perseverance, my strength and my tenacity holding me upright. But it doesn’t matter. Even though I believed Jesus was my Rock, I still pictured myself being the one holding onto Him. I wasn’t going to be moved.
I had it wrong.
There is an old hymn I thought of: “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand.”
It’s a very inspirational hymn, but I decided it still puts a subtle emphasis on me doing the standing. Maybe the words should read instead “In Christ the Solid Rock, I am.”
It is because of Christ, that I am even standing at all.
Without a doubt, my very existence is testimony to Him.
“My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him.
He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved.
With God rests my salvation and my glory; He is my Rock of unyielding strength and impenetrable hardness, and my refuge is in God!” Psalm 62:5-7 (AMP)