An oak tree stood tall in our front yard, planted by the builder nearly three years ago. This was the standard tree most of our community received. As the neighborhood grew, so did concern about how invasive and troublesome the oak tree roots would become.  

One of our neighbors offered to oversee a tree planting project for our community. He negotiated a deal with a landscaper to remove trees and replant a tree of our choice from an approved city list. Jerry and I joined in on the project, choosing to have our oak replaced with a Christmas Palm. We learned that palm trees are better suited for this area as they grow roots that go deep down, reaching for the source of water.

Little did I know God was orchestrating a bigger project than the tree in our front yard. As I was preparing for bed one night, I thought about a person I know. I questioned why does everyone else seem to love and respect this person so much, and I don’t? What’s wrong with me?

I sensed God mention comparison and jealousy. If this person knew my thoughts, they would look at me incredulously and ask, “Joan, what are you thinking? Why on earth would you compare yourself to me? I am nothing.” But it doesn’t matter if that person knows. The problem is me.

To be sure I didn’t miss the point, God brought another example to mind of a situation in which I feel I am odd man out. As much as I’d like to blame this on other circumstances or people, the issue again is me. I desire recognition and acknowledgment.

Prayerfully pondering both scenarios, I saw the root is pride.  

That’s when God took the visuals I saw throughout our neighborhood all week and showed me what bad roots can do.

Even though our oak tree didn’t seem to grow a lot in size since we moved in, that was only the surface view. To remove our tree and many others, the workmen needed strapping and a powerful pickup truck. Once the trees uprooted, we could see how wide the root system had spread. At some homes, the roots infiltrated the irrigation system, and neared the sewer lines. The roots were growing toward the homes, and would, over time, disrupt foundations.

Each relatively young tree required an incredible amount of force to uproot. Even after the tree left the ground, some broken roots rose from the hole.

Then it came to me: my roots have been growing a lot longer than three years. Roots connect what is seen to the source of nourishment. Some are good roots going deep down, the way the Bible tells me to live. Others are more like the oak, going wide and affecting me in ways that may be destructive.  

When I display jealousy and pride, they are facets of anger. Their roots have grown into a tangled mess. They are invasive and influence my thoughts and my perspective on relationships and activities. After confessing these to my Lord, the hard work begins, uprooting them.

I have a picture of what that means. It will not be pretty, and I suspect they won’t leave as quickly as if a truck yanked them out. But I am excited about the fresh growth to come when I replace those roots with genuine prayer and care for others and Christlike grace.

Lord, every time I walk past our new palm tree would you give me root check please?

Photo by Camille Brodard on Unsplash