Cut down several trees the other day...One was a gnarly oak of multiple limbs, broken tops and hazardous widow-makers; the other a previously topped and limbed, 30" +/- Ponderosa Pine tree. Both of these trees had a similar issue, despite their varied appearance and clear differences. The issue at hand was that both posed a clear and present danger to the buildings they were near, the people who were around them and the power lines they were over. Add to that the not as dangerous loss of phone service due to dropping branches from the normal life cycle of an oak tree and the fact that the Ponderosa was already dead and soon to start tossing branches in the coming storms. Both of these trees also had another similarity and also a stark marked difference NOT apparent to someone above ground. The similarity is that both trees were rooted in the same soil; the difference is that one tree was dead and detached from the source of life in the soil, the other still growing and with a long potential life ahead BECAUSE of its roots and their successful attachment. However for the purpose of eliminating a hazard, both had to go. A unique result may yet be experienced with the oak tree that was alive and well rooted...even though cut off, it may send up new growth from the stump of the tree. Though all it had accomplished in the past 25+ years was removed and cut up for someone else's comfort, but under the ground the roots are still successfully connected and new growth will appear. In fact, unless I grind the roots up, in another 25 years this hazard will be back. The Ponderosa, for all its height (over 100' tall) and its grandeur and volume (over 30" in diameter), is dead...will be dead and there will never be growth back. That is because the root is dead. Same soil, different result....why? Because the Pine did not have the armor to defend itself from attack and the root connection was insufficient to provide defenses against an enemy smaller than a dime. As good as the root was in producing a voluminous tree, it was not capable in standing against the enemy. A facade built with soaring heights and impressive branches standing high above the poor confused looking, beat up oak tree has fallen prey to a pest which attacked in the armorless areas and inflicted damage that lead to permanent and irreversible death. The poor oak, though now on the ground in the attack of my chainsaw, is preserved with its DNA intact by the very root connection that helped whatever growth was evident to that point of removal. It will be back, like a bad dream or indigestion, returning to reclaim the lowly place it occupied.
Such is life in Christ. Though sometimes the growth seems broken in areas, or confused, when the root is solid in Him...we will be back. Even if the enemy takes a chainsaw to the growth at hand...we will be back. Even if the pest attacks, the DNA of the oak is impervious to the little pest that did so much damage to the Pine. The Pine, for sake of this example, rooted in the same soil of God's Word and the fellowship of the church appeared to be growing well. Too well, perhaps...beginning to tower over all it stood among. But unarmored against attack, it fell prey to the incessant repetitive attack of a little pest of envy, dissension or jealousy and the root connection proved to be inferior. It was not the DNA of the King preserved in the Person of Jesus Christ, lived out in the believer, but rather the DNA of an imposter carried out ultimately in the death and separation of the one from the good soil of God's Word and Grace. Perhaps even deeper, the chainsaw may well have been the work of God, putting the lives to the test. To one: correction and change allowing new growth to spring forth and be manicured into the desired result. Removing dead wood from the broken branches of life, but allowing the root to reproduce a new, vigorous tree in the pattern of its Maker. To the other: judgment and removal altogether. No future, no hope, just a collection of memories and a few days worth of heat produced in burning. Now that is as far as the example goes, because the chainsaw wielder was me in the physical example, but in the life reality it is only God that has the saw and the judgment power. We may mold and form the growth of the tree in a role of pastor, mentor, discipler or elder, but only as God directs according to His master plan!