We had just arrived in Oregon to spend time with family and take in some basketball games (our son coaches and our grandson is his point guard) and work on the grounds at the Christian school where our son and daughter-in-law teach when we got a call from a neighbor (who graciously watches our place while we are gone) informing us that the day after we left (Feb. 1st) a windstorm came through our area and brought down many trees, including two tall Lodge Pole pine trees that hit our power line. As a result, our place was without power for two days. We are still cleaning up the mess that the 45-55 mph winds made.
Lodge Pole pine trees are very prolific in our area. The seeds are wind dispersed and can fall up to 200 feet from the tree and have a high germination rate—up to 75%. They are also usually the first trees to germinate after a wildfire sweeps through the forest. They will come up very thick and thus grow up tall and slender, making great material for posts and rails. Lodge Pole have several distinguishing characteristics. The relatively short, sharp needles (1.2-2,4” long) occur in pairs. The cones are relatively short (1.6-2.4” long) and often occur in clusters. Each cone has 5-37 seeds. The bark is thin and scaly, usually gray in color. Lodge Pole grow well in areas with cold, wet winters and warm, dry summers.
Another characteristic of the Lodge Pole is that it has a shallow root system, making it very susceptible to high winds. We have experienced a mild, wet winter, and our ground has thawed out and is very full of moisture, so when the wind arrived on Feb. 1st, the trees which did not have deep roots were very susceptible and many uprooted.
In Scripture, believers are often likened to trees (Psa. 1:3; 52:8; Hos. 14:6; Jer. 17: 8). We are encouraged to be firmly planted in order to withstand the winds of adversity and temptation and false teaching that come against us. In speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, God said: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. (In contrast) “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer. 17:5-8).
The Psalmist wrote: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD (i.e., in God’s Word), and in His law he mediates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psa. 1:1-3).
The apostle Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus that they would be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17). In his letter to the church at Colossae he challenged the members, writing: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceptions, according to the traditions of men, according to the empty principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:6-8).
As believers (trees) we need to develop a strong, deep root system which comes from spending time in His Word, reading, studying, meditating, memorizing and applying the truths God has so graciously shared with us. We need to extend our roots to the “Living Water.” In Moses’ commission to Joshua, who would lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, he challenged him saying, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1: 8).
Something else to keep in mind: pine trees grow best in a forest setting, not as stand-alone trees, for then their roots are intertwined and provide much more protection against the wind. As believers, we are much more susceptible to being devastated by the winds of adversity, temptation and false teaching if we try to go it alone. When it comes to withstanding the winds, we not only need to be “firmly rooted,” but also need to be in fellowship with other believers. There is definitely more strength in numbers. That’s the challenge given by the writer of Hebrews: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:23-25). So keep sinking your roots deep into Christ and His Word and spend time in study and fellowship with your fellow believers, especially as the day of Christ’s return appears to be drawing very near.
Well, time to go pick up more branches!