God who establishes Roots
At breakfast I was talking to my son about trees and the importance of deep and wide roots. “When storms come, the trees with good roots won’t be easily knocked over or shaken.” And his face lit up and he responded, “Because that’s what the branches do!” And I smiled. He was right. The branches are an extension of the tree, but they are thin and easily disrupted by even the slightest breeze. Anyone who has ever experienced any type of wind storm knows how trees that continue to stand firm can easily lose their limbs. Limbs attached to the tree but without the roots.
The established man of Psalms 1 has been the topic of conversation around our house lately. What does he look like? How can we be like him? Like a tree by the streams that produces fruit as it was intended to.
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
And God brought me to Daniel and his 3 companions. In Daniel chapter 1, we are introduced to these 4 young men who had been brutally removed from their families and homes and traditions and placed among the enemy. They were spared because of the strength of their minds, and placed in a 3 year program preparing to be assessed by a foreign king. What a scene that has been set as we see Daniel take his first recorded step of faith. When asked to adapt to the traditional habits of this pagan land, he requested to remain faithful to the beliefs of his heritage. It is recorded that all 4 of these young men took part in this experiment, but we don’t see any hints that Daniel’s 3 friends chose this for themselves. They merely followed the leadership of Daniel, and when God prospered Daniel’s way, He also prospered theirs. God gifted all 4 of them with exceptional “knowledge and skill in all learning”, but to Daniel, an extra portion of discernment with” visions and dreams”. (Dn. 1:17)
In chapter 2 we see a troubled king. A dream he didn’t understand shook him to the core. He demanded not only to be told what it meant, but also what the dream actually was. When every advisor in the kingdom said it wasn’t humanly possible, the king put into the action the geneocide of an entire line of occupation. When Daniel heard what was going on, he “answered with counsel and discernment” (Dn. 2:14) and requested an audience of the king. He immediately told his 3 companions to pray for God’s favor, and Daniel took another step in faith. When God gave Him the answers to satisfy the king, all 4 young men were spared and rewarded, and Daniel was given a permanent address in the palace.
This brings us to chapter 3, and Daniel living in a different residence than his 3 friends. Spared from geneocide and transitioning into their new assignments, a golden image was being formed. Nebuchadnezzar, was building a statue of great price for the purpose of national worship..
The time had come for these 3 young men to choose their path apart from Daniel’s strength of character. Would they choose the God they saw increase their strength when they chose a seemingly small and unimportant stance to only eat things in line with their cultural law? Would they choose the God they prayed to when Daniel stepped out in faith waiting for the interpretation the King demanded? Would they choose the God they saw evidenced in Daniel’s faith?
In the face of the furnace, they chose to make God their own. When the music sounded and the masses bowed to the golden statue, the three chose to stand.
Enraged, the king turned up the heat and asked them a pointed question,
“Who is this God who will deliver you out of my hands?”
And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said,
“...Our God who we serve is ABLE to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and HE WILL DELIVER us out of your hand, O King. BUT IF NOT, be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dn. 3:18)
Somewhere along the lines, these 3 men had to step out of the shadows of their parents, out from behind the faith of Daniel, and decide if this God was a God they chose for themselves. They had to see if they were merely branches thinly attached to the things of God, or if their roots were firmly planted.
It makes me think. Am I surviving off of the spiritual strength of another? It’s easy to do. It’s more convenient to listen to church leaders preach on what they are studying than spending time quietly seeking the Lord. It’s easier to fall behind the bold companion taking a stand than to step out on our own. It’s less time consuming to ask for prayer instead of entering the closet ourselves. But God calls us to something deeper. He calls us to relationship directly with Him. He desires so much more than second hand, second generation, faith.
Do you have your own roots? Or are you a branch tapping into the root system of another? Maybe you have your roots, but it’s been a while since they’ve stretched wide and dug deep. Can we start today? Read a little more? Pray a little longer? Love a little deeper? Seek a little more urgently? God is present, and He longs to be found. He is God who is able and willing to establish and deepen our roots.
You have called me deeper,
ARH Staff Writer
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. (Ps. 1)