But to stand firm in this truth and overflow with thanksgiving is not an easy task. (I bought a tree and planted it on Friday… and then our dog dug it up!) It’s like when you try to get your life rooted, something comes along and tries to uproot you! On all sides of Colossians 2:6-7 are verses that indicate that faithful living will be under attack; the pressure will be to adulterate our faith to other ideas and pursuits that in the end cause us to go astray from our love in God.
- – – – – Full audio sermon from June 14, 2009, Brentview Baptist – 2009-06-14 Rooted Faith – Draw Up – Ken Castor – – – – – – –
In chapter 1 verse 23, after Paul has just described how amazing Christ is and how he died on the cross to reconcile us to God, Paul says, “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.” And in verse 4 of chapter 2, Paul says, “I am telling you [all these things] so that no one will be able to deceive you with persuasive arguments.” And then in verses 8-10, Paul encourages the Colossians: “Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty sounding philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ. For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe.”
It’s as if some strong winds of ideas and diverting thoughts are storming in and battering against the Colossian believers. The situation is serious. We face this sort of storm against our faith all the time. For these winds cause damage and thrash apart lives and tear through the faith of some people. But like I said last week, more often than not, the winds are not the terribly destructive gusts of tornadoes and hurricanes, but are usually the steady, blowing winds of the prairies, that slowly over the years wear against a person’s stamina and endurance. In the end, the diversions of this life that blow against us constantly, can eventually knock us off of our foundation, erode our faith, and uproot us. If any of you are like me – and most of you are (and no that’s not an insult to you!… or to me!)- then you are hit daily it seems with the pressure winds of this life: big decisions to make, bills and mortgage to pay, kids school activities, soccer practices, yard work, illnesses, busyness, worries, stress, ahhhhh!!! The last two months have been among the craziest busy of my life as I’ve traveled all over for my school research and have dealt with a broken-down minivan and helped coach my son’s soccer team and been busy here in the meantime and on and on and on. I’m exhausted and have realized on many occasions in the last two months that I couldn’t keep going in my own power. You know, even the winds of the pressures of time have been taking a toll on me personally lately— as I keep losing hair on top of my head and I keep finding it reappearing in my ears and on my lower back! I’m feeling some strong wind burn here!
And in the worst of times, like when Kathy was sick a year-and-a-half ago and I was scared for her and for our family, and during a few other really intense seasons of gut-wrenching agony and soul-searching and decision-making, I have learned that in Christ we can draw up all the nourishment we need to be built up strong in his truth so that we are able to withstand anything that comes our way. In fact, sometimes the wind, though it thrashes against us, can actually serve as an opportunity to grow down deep in faith even more. I remember back to my childhood (which is seeming further and further away from me now!). In the woods next to our house was the greatest tree I have ever known. I have no idea what kind of tree it was, only that it was the coolest tree ever. It was on the edge of the forest and had branches that were perfectly spaced for my short kid legs and perfectly sized for my small kid hands. I would spend hours climbing all over this tree, enjoying every branch, resting in the leaves, going all the way to the wee green branches on the top and holding on when the wind blew. This tree was secure and it wasn’t going anywhere and I remember as a kid being in love with that tree.
But I also remember that not everything was perfect about that tree. Some branches had been broken off, either because it had been hurt by someone or it had suffered some damage during a storm. I remember after one thunderstorm another tree had fallen over and crashed against my favorite tree. The collision had created about a five-foot gash in my tree and had ripped off several branches. But I remember finding it really interesting that the fallen tree, in its brokenness, had been caught and had come to rest by leaning on my favorite tree. It’s as if the strength and security of my favorite tree had absorbed the pain of another tree and was now offering comfort and hope to it. I remember being so proud of my tree! No matter the circumstances, no matter the storm, no matter what hit it or what winds or pressures blew against it, my favorite tree stood firm. And I’ve got to tell you, the scars on that tree became part of its beauty to me. Every scar and wound and knot became a mark of beauty as that tree continued to draw up nourishment and be built up in strength and to stand strongly as a pillar in a broken, stormy world. Since then, this tree has become a symbol to me: a symbol of how if I am rooted in Christ and drawing up nourishment from him I can stand strong through anything and even then become a source of uplifting strength to those around me when they get blown around or lose their footing. Those who dig themselves down deep into the Lord will stand tall in his strength.