North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

6C45570A-2F56-4D0A-8C14-B71A658F55B4    I spend many waking hours in the woodlands near my home. It’s the trees dotting the landscape that make the beauty of the woods standout. During hurricane seasonand when summer thunderstorms develop, some trees withstand the winds, while others either topple over or break in two. Another scenario for the death of trees is when the timber industry harvests them and leave behind the stump. In my reflective thoughts I have discovered there seems to be three primary characteristics affecting a trees resiliency.

    Strength. The wood of a tree makes it able to stand upright. When trees grow in an area that is frequentlychallenged by wind, they tend to adapt. Scientist call this process thigmomorphogenesis. That’s a long word that tends to give this article a little academia. This fancy name is natures response to factors that alter the growth pattern of plants and trees. As a tree adapts to stressors, it triggers growth in the areas where it’s being stressed.

    What a fantastic illustration of our faith. In times of stress, crises, and when the cold winds blow against you—bearing up under it can cause personal growth. If you trust God rather than turn from him, your faith grows the most. The Bible speaks of how the trees clap their hands and praise the Lord: “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Trees are a metaphor for faith.

    Flexibility is a second part of resiliency. A tree is designed to bend and sway. The trunk is thicker at the bottom, where the stress is greatest. Thinner branches on top are the most flexible, allowing the entire crown of the tree to bend in the direction of the wind. Palm trees are so flexible they can bend all the way over. They may lose their fronds, but they withstand the wind.

    As we go through life, we need to practice the fine art of bending and not breaking. Flexibility is being open to the plans and ideas of others. It is taking criticism and advice as helpful instruction rather than as assaults. Changing your own plans to accommodate others not only makes it easier on yourself, it demonstrates the highest form of love—putting others first.

    A strong root system is another part of resiliency. When a tree is young, it’s primary root is the tap root. It is aptly named as it dives down deep into the earth to provide water. As the tree grows, lateral roots spread out just under the ground, to gather nutrients. From the lateral roots, sinker roots shoot down into the earth. These sinker roots anchor the tree. Winds blowing the tree, cause the sinker roots to dig deeper, reaching down for a firmer grip in between the storms. The more wind the tree gets in life, the deeper the roots grow.

    The Bible says, “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

    We must be as strong, yet as flexible as we can be in the face of adverse circumstances. It’s our ideals, beliefs, and convictions deeply ingrained in our souls that anchor us firmly to the ground.

    What about the things that are out of our control? What about the times when we are temporarily paralyzed in an attempt to respond to something that happens to us?

    I recently observed an object lesson in nature regarding the tree. The tree itself had been cut down. But due to its resiliency, it did not give up. One of its seedlings was determined to start over again. I also noticed on the stump a pinecone had been picked apart no doubt by a squirrel looking for a seed to eat. It’s a brilliant picture story of what happens to us sometimes in life. We get cut down by someone’s cruel words or actions. Someone comes along and tramples on top of us while we are down. And then they feast on our difficulties and demise. It’s a scenario coordinated by the devil himself. The world plays this game over and over again. People allow themselves to be used by the devil. But a resilient person will muster strength to endure the hurt. They will formulate flexibility to adjust to their circumstance. And finally, they will display the power of their Creator, and reestablish a root system so they can begin to grow again. Don’t give up on life, keep on fighting, no matter how many times you have to start over.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a Public Health Services Manager for the Florida Department of Health and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York community of Jay, Florida. His “Living With Purpose” Book series can be found and purchased on www. You can contact him by email:

Posted by on Oct 3 2021. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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