District Fellowship News

May, June 2012

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting my mother-in-law’s home in northern Vermont. My wife’s parents bought the house in the 1940’s and their family has spent many happy years there.  Right next to the house down a steep bank the North Branch of the Lamoille River flows by; usually a 10 foot wide swiftly running stream that holds trout and rocks and special swimming holes. At the bottom of the steep bank on the same side of the river as the house there was a wide flat area that would be inundated with water every time the river rose a foot or two. Many years before I ever visited their home, my wife’s father planted pine trees on that strip of land. His plan was that the root system of the trees would stabilize the ground, helping provide a solid foundation so that it wouldn’t be washed away during the spring thaw or summer flash floods.

When I first saw those pines they were only a few feet taller than the bank, growing straight  and lovely. In the years since, although some of them have been removed, they have soared to the sky and stand proud and tall. During that recent visit, I saw the wisdom of putting down roots into the soil, of having a good foundation on which to stand as spring rains caused that little stream to roar over its banks and flood both sides of the river including that area where the pines had been planted. With the water swirling around their trunks, these trees did not sway but stood firm. The ground at their base did not leach away but stayed there. Of course debris from upstream is now caught on that bank, other trees that were not so fortunate, branches that couldn’t take the pressure, but those pines still stand.

The Bible talks about trees planted by the water with deep roots that are not affected by drought because they have the water they need, and they are not weak and easily damaged because their roots have gone deep into the soil. Jesus told a parable about a sower who threw his seed onto a field that had a variety of different soils and when he mentioned the seed that fell on the rocky soil, he said it soon wilted under the sun because it’s roots were not deep. We can take away a lesson from this. We can strengthen our spiritual lives, by putting down roots in a good foundation, making sure we are not just flitting from here to there never getting serious about anything. If our faith does not go deep, a little problem, a storm will sweep us away. We will wilt in the heat or be washed away in the flood. When you have a solid foundation, you understand the truth that comes from God and you can make it the basis, the foundation, for your life, your beliefs.

In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus talks about the wise and foolish man who both built houses, one on a solid foundation and one on a shaky, shifting foundation. In that parable he did not say that the house built on the sand was poorly built, he said the foundation was poorly chosen. When we do not choose God’s truth as our foundation we can be in the same predicament as the builder of that house on the sand. Just around the bend of that stream we were talking of before there are a group of trees including is a beautiful pine that stands on top of an embankment near the edge of the river. Over the years, during high water that bank has started to erode away as the stream changed course. As I approached the bank this year, I noticed that one of those trees now leaned precariously out over the river, some of the bank has been lost and where the majestic pine stands, the bank has dropped down a few feet. The trees are still standing, they have strong root systems, but it will not be long before the water takes away enough of their foundation that they come crashing into the water. Their roots were deep, but their foundation was shaky. In your spiritual life these principles apply. It starts with your choice of a foundation, then your decision to put your trust and faith into that foundation. As the Scripture says be like the wise man and build on the Rock.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)