The insistent whine of a chain saw penetrates my morning.
It stormed here last night, something I always love but last night I slept through it all and when I stepped out on the balcony first thing after rising, I saw our grand old mesquite tree tipped over on its side. And my heart broke.
The trees here, they get cut down on a whim. This one, however, long was spared. Even though its trunk lay over at an odd angle almost parallel to the ground, it had grown well, and large for a mesquite: its branches stretched easily some 40 feet in the air and its trunk circumscribed a ragged but stolid several feet around. Misshapen, distorted and imperfect, it grew anyway and the birds enjoyed its branches and the neighborhood cats lay in casual ambush, stretched leopard-esque across the leaning trunk.
Two years I’ve lived here and watched the tree survive storm after storm.
But last night, something hit that was just too strong. And the tree fell.
Mesquites, now, they’re fragile—notoriously so. I had a Chilean mesquite in my front yard (this was when I had a house) and one evening, for no good reason, a major branch just cracked right off. (A gracious neighbor cut up the branch and hauled it away for his fireplace, murmuring thanks for upcoming warm and fragrant winter nights.) A mesquite tree needs to be watered deep, I was told, so that the roots dig hard and bury themselves in the rocklike soil layer a few feet under the desert surface. My tree I’d watered deep, which is why I didn’t lose the whole thing, but this one here…when I looked closer this morning I realized this mesquite’s roots were concentrated away from the irrigation lines. For all the tree’s size, its roots were shallow, and its sharply angled trunk was pulling it away from its own anchor.
It was just a matter of time.
Now, the tree is being sundered into firewood or mesquite chips or mulch. Its brave glory is gone.
And I look at the destruction and I think, What has ME unbalanced?
What has ME leaning in the wrong direction, ready to topple? Are my roots deep enough to survive the fury of an unexpected midnight storm? Or am I all show and no stability? Am I a fall waiting to happen? This is what I wonder in this season of uncertainty, a season that seems to harbor no future, no past—a season that feels like I’m walking through fog at night, unchanging and bleak. Who am I, really, and what do I believe? And is it enough to anchor me as the wind rises and the doubts assail?
And Jesus meets me, even in my questions. You will not fall, He whispers, and in my mind I hear the echo of the song I posted a few days ago:
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil…
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord
Lord of all…
My roots are inextricably bound in Christ. He is my rock. Weak made strong… It is His love that gives me any stability. The only way I can fall is to separate myself from Him. But biblically, this is not possible (see Romans 8). And He has promised that all things—ALL things—work together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.
This includes me. Even when my growth seems twisted or distorted or just plain wrong. Even when it seems that for every step taken in faith, I slide two steps back. Even when it seems my leaning is in the wrong direction.
My frustration, my tears, my sense of betrayal or hopelessness or fear, my damage, my pain, my disobedience, even my worst anger—none of this fazes God. And none of it can separate me from His love. This blows my mind.
He knows my frame. He remembers that I am dust. *
And He loves me.
My anchor holds within the veil.
We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:
“I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”
Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.
Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain [veil] into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
—Hebrews 6: 9-20 (emphasis mine)
* from Psalm 103