Each evening my husband and I put on our Keens and head out the door. The route is the same even though the landscape of the lagoon and sand is always changing depending on the season and high and low tide. The pictures below come from our favorite view.
It might not look like it at first glance, but the same tree is in all three pictures. The pictures are from different years, different seasons, and different angles.
I have always enjoyed watching the changing landscape around the tree, but until today I had never really stopped to think about this tree. This tree stayed steadfast during the years that have gone by. It weathered the storms and survived both dry and rainy seasons. It will not live forever but for now it is holding its own even as it leans a little to the side.
I want to be like that tree. I want to stay rooted in my faith even as all around me is changing. When the waters get close and threaten the stability of the ground around me, I want to stay steadfast. Through the good and the bad, I long to be rooted in the promises of God. But the thing is that I can't do that on my own.
Paul, the great missionary of Acts, had the same problem. In Galatians 2:20, he writes, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is not longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Then in Philippians 4, he gives the secret of being content in every situation. It is doing "everything through Christ who gives him strength." Paul knew what he was talking about. He had his highs and his lows but knew that Christ in him was key.
Last year was a year of transitions for our team and family. Our team changed leadership. Some team members left to new opportunities. While new members joined our team. My classroom grew up to having 7 students of all ages for most of the fall. Our daughter was married adding a son to our family. This year looks to have even more transitions some big and some small.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by transition. Other times I embrace it. It is a natural part of life especially living overseas. The trouble is that I can focus so much on the change, the transition, that I forget the unchanging God who is by my side. I forget that Christ is in me and try to do it on my own. My eyes neglect to see the faithfulness of God and his steadfast love. As the waves get closer and slowing erode the ground away, I need to cling to Christ who gives me strength.
At this time next year, I would like to look back and see that I weathered the transitions not because of me but because of Christ in me. I might be a little like that tree and leaning a little to the right but I am still standing. This will only be possible when I am rooted in Him. Rooted in prayer. Rooted in His word. Rooted in spending time with others who share my faith. And not to forget, rooted in serving.
I find myself saying these words from James Bryan Smith as a prayer. "I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights. I live in the unshakeable kingdom of God. It is not in trouble and neither am I." May you live as one in whom Christ dwells and delights.
(Note: For more on this quote, check out Emily P. Freeman's Episode 86 of The Next Right Thing.)