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The lesson in the stump

As I sat by the gently lapping cool waters of a lake, fishing pole in hand, just admiring the stillness and lazy activity of the ducks that swam by, I began to ponder a stump on the shoreline. What made this stump so unusual was the way the roots were positioned. The tree had obviously been wherever it had been growing for quite some time as the breadth of this tree's base was about two feet wide. It had been felled at some time, stump now firmly placed at the edge of this rocky shoreline. Underneath the great expanse of the tree base was an amazing display of the tree's 'will' to grow in the first place. There were a series of roots, each about four to six inches in diameter, tightly curled around huge pieces of boulder sized rocks! I think the stump was placed where it was because it would serve as a tether for boaters to 'tie in' on the shoreline and enjoy a little fishing at that spot, but the tree's 'will' to grow must have been tremendous for it to have survived as long as it did in the obviously 'rocky' soil it had taken root within as a 'wee tree'. We probably have all heard it said, "Where there is a will, there is a way." That tree and the hundreds surrounding me on those shorelines proved that very point - the 'will' has a whole lot to do with how we prosper when the 'soil' of our lives isn't as 'perfect' as we might desire it to be!

Happy is the man who does not walk in the way sinful men tell him to, or stand in the path of sinners, or sit with those who laugh at the truth. But he finds joy in the Law of the Lord and thinks about His Law day and night. This man is like a tree planted by rivers of water, which gives its fruit at the right time and its leaf never dries up. Whatever he does will work out well for him. Sinful men are not like this. They are like straw blown away by the wind. So the sinful will not stand. They will be told they are guilty and have to suffer for it. Sinners will not stand with those who are right with God. For the Lord knows the way of those who are right with Him. But the way of the sinful will be lost from God forever. (Psalm 1)

We might not always find ourselves in the 'perfect soil' in life. Life comes to us complete with all the rocks and boulders it can manage to put in our path, doesn't it? We can try to circumvent a few of them, but if we are to grow, we must push past them to the 'better soil' just on the other side of them. There isn't any assurance our 'life soil' will be 'rock-free', but there is total assurance that our growth will be tended and directed by the one who will help us find the 'base' we need in which growth will be forthcoming. The roots on that stump gave evidence of a couple things I think we can consider this morning:

The roots didn't circumvent the boulders and stones - they used them as 'anchoring' in their life. The winds around those parts could be pretty severe at times, especially when monsoon season is in full force. The cooler winters can bring inch upon inch of heavy snow and ice, making the trees 'bear up' under tremendous weight at times. Yet, they stand - tall and straight - unhindered in their upward growth. Why? They have not circumvented the hard places! They used them to give 'anchorage' in their lives. We can learn to use those hard places in life as something that gives us greater 'anchorage', or we can always go on avoiding them. Just remember - the upward growth that will stand the test time and time again isn't found in the 'soft soil'. Resistance doesn't have to stop us - it can act as a means by which we find the greatest 'hold' in life.

The trees were wedged into the tightest of spots - not wide open spaces, but very tiny spots that gave way to their expanded growth. We might think we are in a 'tight spot' right now and not see there is always room for us to grow a little bit more. The growth comes for those trees when they push beyond their present limit. They have to expand their roots so that the things in their way begin to give way to allow for their growth. Certainly it is easiest to just grow a little and stop when we face resistance. Many forestry workers come through our high country and 'thin' the growth of the trees. Why? They are helping the littler ones growing just beneath these bigger ones see the light a little better. Some of us just need a little better view of the light in order to begin to reach a little further and grow a little taller. Just sayin!

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