As Autumn winds gain strength, tree leaves begin to fall. Slowly but surely, trees are undressed, baring their skeletons for all to see. Their strengths and weaknesses are exposed, causing us to fear some are close to crashing down, while others amaze us with their sturdiness and strength. While we may get hints of a tree’s strength or fragility during spring or summer, it is when the cold winds begin to blow that the inner structure of a tree is revealed. So it is with me. When all is well, my strengths and weaknesses are safely tucked away behind the leaves of excitement, busyness and entertainment. Whatever is right or wrong with me, it is not easily discerned behind all the stuff going on. Yet, when the cold wind blows and begins to shake things up in my life, my inner structure is revealed. I, and those around me, are better able to see if I am a tree about to fall or if I am a tree growing strong, able to weather what storms may come.
This tells me an inescapable reality: who I am is not defined by my leaves, but by my branches. My inner life, the me when the cold wind blows and my leaves fall off, reveals my true self. Who and what do I love? In whom do I trust? Who and what do I worship? Who or what has my heart? It is only when my leaves fall that these questions begin to be answered. This is why God isn’t as concerned with my leaves as it is with my branches: “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6). God wants access to your inner being, as it is there where his good work begins. This truth and wisdom that the Psalmist is referring to isn’t merely cognitive, but experiential. He wants to plant in your heart the knowledge of who He is. His unconditional love for you and his desire to continue and finish the good work He began in you.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? It is when bad weather comes that our roots need to be solidly rooted in Christ. It is when autumn and winter come that the tree needs to see the results of the loving care of its Good Gardener.
A deeply rooted, beloved tree doesn’t fear the wind. Why? Because He trusts the Gardener.