I have recently been reading Humility: the Journey towards Holiness by Andrew Murray. It has been a great book through the couple chapters I have read so far, but my most recent chapter began with words that just will not let me go.
“No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang.”
There is a deep truth that we often overlook when reading something like this. It sounds true and motivating, but if we break this down, it comes to life all on its own.
Trees come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. Much like the human race. We group them into their own categories: evergreens, maples, birch, sassafras, redwood, etc. Also, like the human race tends to do with culture or religion: African American, Caucasian, Mexican, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, etc.
We admire the trees for their beauty - the pretty white flowers of Dogwoods in springtime, pinks and yellow flowers on the apple trees right before the fruit show up, and the gorgeous red of the maple tree in fall. We do this as humans also with great admiration of movie stars and singers, the amount of likes on full glam makeup pictures, and the number of views on all the fashion videos of YouTube.
However, unlike the human race, trees have maintained their relative natural instincts over time. A seed is planted, gets watered, and grows taller. Branches get thicker, leaves are added, and seeds are dropped. Then, the process begins again - year after year.
Humans, on the other hand, have changed. Our definitions of beauty, our meaning of happiness, and more, has all altered drastically since Adam.
Trees are fed from their root where they obtain the nutrients needed to grow and blossom into the world.
Unfortunately, humans have created their own root system. They have built themselves up by climbing over others, throwing material things down into a pile to stand on top of, and trying to reach great heights, only to be known by man.
How many likes can this picture build me up? What if I try this instead, will that gain me more likes? I can compromise here to reach this crowd. I can do this to reach this one.
Our roots should be in God. We should be growing closer to Him in order to be seen by the world with His light shining through.
Instead, we more recently see the artificial root that man has created.
We have pulled ourselves away from following the directions that God has laid before us, to following the directions we create for ourselves.
Our trees (our lives) wither away so quickly when we build them up with false hopes, false ideas, and false idols. You lose followers, and it is a blow to your pride. You get a negative comment and your confidence dips. You begin to change to please those around you and soon do not recognize the person in the mirror.
I have been there. I did it for years. Not even on social media, but I did it for friends and family. I became the person they were expecting but was drowning on the inside.
Jesus said it best.
“ I can do nothing on my own.… “John 5:30 (NLT)
I cannot do a single thing on my own. Everything that I built on my own was broken down with words and actions from humans.
God teaches us through His word that we should make our focus to be like Christ, not to be like other humans.
Jesus was humble.
Jesus put God first.
Jesus knew that the root that allowed Him to grow was God. He knew that if He cut Himself off from the root, He cut himself off from the blessings that came through the root.
Andrew Murray also says in his book, “This is the true self-denial to which our Savior calls us, the acknowledgment that self has nothing good in it, except as an empty vessel for God to fill.”
Self wants to be the popular one. Self wants to take the easy road. Self wants to be comfortable.
God wants so much more for us than we can imagine.
So, today, I choose to be an empty vessel for Him. I want Him to choose my path. I want Him to choose my actions and words. I want Him to fill me up, so when I pour out to others, they can only receive Him through me.