These last several weeks the skies have been steely gray and mostly rainy, which feels very out of character for Central California where I live. We’ve had unprecedented rain throughout the state since January. In fact, we’ve had so much rain that we’ve already more than doubled the amount of rain for a normal year.
Let’s be clear: we desperately need rain.
California has been in a drought for years, but this unprecedented rain is also wreaking havoc on the Golden State. Flooding has gutted roads, bridges, and neighborhoods. There aren’t good systems in place to hold the water. Houses, power lines, and cars have been damaged because of large trees falling. A tree recently took out the stoplight at one of the main intersections near my house. Meanwhile, snow abounds in the mountains, which looks beautiful from my balcony but also compounds the flooding problems here in the valley.
On the trails where I run, I daily see the ramifications of these storms and floods. Our beautiful, tree-lined paths are water-logged and washed out in parts. Mud and puddles last for days. Many of the trees are leaning dangerously to one side in the marshy ground.
When I was out on a run a few weeks ago, I passed a tree that made me stop in my tracks. I called out to my friend who was with me to wait, and then ran back to examine it. The tree was completely toppled, but strangely there was no evidence of roots. I investigated and there was no stump nearby either.
I looked at my friend and said, “That’ll preach.”
Is it any surprise that a tree without roots would be among the first to fall when a storm comes?
That tree was preaching a sermon to me about the importance of being rooted.
What I have learned about roots is they are vital to the tree. The roots allow nutrients from water to enter the tree and be transported to the branches and leaves. Tree roots also take nutrients and chemicals from the soil and use them to produce what a tree needs for growth, development, and repair. Tree roots anchor a tree in the soil, keeping it straight and stable.
This is why a tree without roots couldn’t withstand the rainstorm.
The roots of a tree grow underground. They are not seen by those above ground. We might compare this to our private life with Christ. If we want strong spiritual roots, we need to grow a personal relationship with God. We strengthen our roots when we pray, read our Bibles, and worship in various forms. The important growth and connection happens when no one else is watching.
In his letter to the church at Colossae, the apostle Paul talks about the importance of staying rooted in Christ:
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
In the Colossian church, there was a problem with dangerous false teachings creeping in. Paul provides both warnings and teachings through his letter, encouraging the people to find their identity in Christ and follow Him.
As I kept running along the trail, I spotted another fallen tree. This tree had obvious roots protruding from her trunk. She was fully laying down on the ground — uprooted by the storm — but she also had tiny pink blooms all over her branches.
That’s right, she was knocked down by the storm, but she was still blooming. Let that thought root in your heart. She had been uprooted, but there was still evidence of life on this tree.
I do believe it’s possible for someone to bloom even when they are knocked down, even when they are navigating intense trials, even when they are grieving.
These two trees taught me one important truth: storms reveal our roots.
We may think a tree looks strong and sturdy from above ground, but the rains, wind, and storms of life will reveal its true root system.
This motivates me in my daily choices and soul practices to carve out that time to read and study the Bible, listen to worship music in the car with my kids, go on prayer runs, or connect regularly with friends who keep me accountable in my faith walk. These little things matter. It’s not about checking boxes or striving to do things perfectly. Every little bit of time we humbly offer to Jesus allows us to grow.
Friend, let’s remember the call to stay rooted in Christ. Once the storm comes, it’s too late to begin. The goal is to remain rooted in His love and abide in His presence so we can stand strong through all kinds of weather.
Dorina has a new children’s book, Chasing God’s Glory, that leads kids of all ages to discover God and His glory on life’s trails. Find details about the new book and Dorina’s other offerings here!