Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Networking Skills

There's a tree native to the Puerto Rican rainforest. It is monolithic, as you would expect most rainforest trees to be. It reaches a mature growth of around 115 feet tall and 71 inches in diameter. Its smooth grey bark is reminiscent of enormous elephantine legs and the age of the oldest trees has been guessed at 400 years or more. The leafy canopies of its limbs engulf the littered forest floor in shade. Its wood makes beautiful furniture, is useful in lumber applications and can be used much like mahogany or birch. Of all the rainforest trees, the Tabonuco tree is special not for its breath taking size or finished lumbered beauty but for what lies below the surface.

Beneath the littered forest floor of the Puerto Rican island, on the highest, rockiest ridges, the Tabonuco puts down something very, very special. Roots. Yes, I know, every tree puts down roots... But the root system of the Tabonuco is special indeed. It grafts its roots to each other. Instead of standing alone, the Tabonuco creates a system of root sharing that incorporates up to twenty other trees. When tragedy strikes and a hurricane hits the tiny island, the Tabonuco is firmly rooted with its companions to weather the storm. When one is lost in the grafting, scabs and callouses form over the wounds of the tree, but the system doesn't die. It still feeds its group. It is interconnected to its system, each supplying the other with water, food and sunlight. The Tabonuco is quite a tree!

We too were not made to do it alone. We were created to have fellowship, first with the ultimate root system that is Christ and second with each other. We cannot stand alone in the forrest and expect to flourish. We have to have our grafted root system in place to be truly a productive and fruitful individual. When one of us runs into trouble, it is up to the entire system we have in place to respond, first pointing us straight to the Father and then being open to His leading to pick help in whatever way He deems appropriate.

Putting down roots has such varied connotations. It can mean growing up, picking a mate, finding a home, settling in a particular city or geographical area. The roots we put down in our faith, however, are so much more important. These roots are the things that will anchor us when life storms all around us, these roots will keep us standing when everything else is failing and falling around us. When we are rooted in Christ, that solid foundation beneath our feet, the rest of the world can be shifting sand - we will stand firm. Christ should be at the heart of our grafted root system.

The network we build around that foundation, the people we allow into our lives and associate, play and learn with, is the fellowship that Christ has asked us to nurture and grow. We are not made to stand alone, to live the Christian life in a vacuum, untouched and alone. Trees raised in darkness are stunted, Christians living in isolation are fruitless. It's a good thing, too. We thrive in the company of others like ourselves. We are most productive and happy when we have someone to share our successes, our dreams and even our failures and fears. When we feel supported and safe, we reach farther and grow taller even in the face of adversity.

Tend your network today. Touch deeply into the base root of Christ and then radiate outward and check in with your friends and family. They will help you stand strong and you will be ready for the storm when it hits. Who knows, maybe someone in your grafting needs you today! You could be the oasis in their storm that Christ sends to cheer them or just listen.

He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. (Luke 6:48, NKJV)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Living the dream...

You don't have to be college educated, a rocket scientist or a financier to take one look around us and see that we are living in scary, scary times right now. Every time I turn on the television I am greeted by a maniacally grinning talking head espousing the latest DOW drop, the current Congressional feud or the next estimated tax hike and it is starting to have an effect on me.

The Media is swimming with unflattering pictures of glassy-eyed, crazed-looking Tea Party members, frumpy, grumpy Dems or exasperated Republicans. The President is no longer smiling with condescension, informing us lowly peons that panic is unwarranted, he's frowning and sounding defensive. Long gone are the days that entertainment news ruled and we could all bury our collective heads in the sand and pray our ship would come in... We are in the thick of it now, pard'ner! And it only gets uglier from here.

If you believe the doom and gloom, our only hope is to buy gold and other precious metals because the end is near. We need a minimum of two months food and water stocked in our basements or garages and have you bought your generator yet? The Government will be confiscating our bank accounts, taking our earthly possessions as its own and only the armed and the well prepared will survive.

When I look at it like that, I am a deer in the headlights and I am scared! Too scared to even move, if I am downright honest about it. Things like this, times like these, they tend to paralyze me in fear. I get depressed, really depressed, and I stop doing things. I stop cooking, cleaning, and running my life. I start missing deadlines, I start reading a lot. I listen to every report and follow every newscast as though my life depended on it. I stop living for Christ and start living for my next check. It sucks.

My husband hit the nail on the head the other day in the middle of my melt down. He said, "More than having chickens, more than a vegetable garden, or buying up all the gold we can afford, more than anything we feel powerful enough to do, we must learn to pray without ceasing." Becoming more the Master's child, and less the master of our domain will calm us and prepare us for the days to come. To back all of that up, I began scouring my devotionals for any more comfort and I was immediately met head on in Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling." August 5, 6, 7, and 8 speak directly to the futility of thinking we have control over much in our lives, if anything. That our striving for "mastery" is as empty as our hearts without Christ. We have to trust that God will help us deal with the pressures we are given, that He truly doesn't hand us anything He isn't willing to walk with us through. Our job is to listen...

It isn't very glamorous or adventurous to sit and listen, but God wants us to wait on Him. He wants us to be like "still pools" awaiting His stirring of those waters into productive action. We don't get to understand it, to master it. We get to rest in Him. Sarah Young says that peace isn't something we strive to attain, we have it already. We have the ultimate peace when we accept Christ. It is our fallible nature that thinks that if we work at it, we can have more peace. Again, this is one of those "simple not easy" concepts. The hearing and the doing seem miles apart. Being calm when everything around us is falling apart is so very hard! We want to DO something, be active somehow, keep disaster at bay. The truth is we are simply expending useless energy when we do that. God wants our hearts and our trust.

God has been saying it from the beginning. Sad how it takes a crisis on the level of catastrophe to get my attention back to this very simple truth. God wants all of me... again. He isn't asking for a donation or a volunteer on weekends. He wants me all the way. All consumed and thinking about Him every moment of every day. His purpose in loving me is to show me trust. He wants me to trust Him with all of me and He will have his way, whether I come voluntarily and peaceably or whether He drags me there by the hair. His way, or no way at all. It has been eye opening, to say the least.

While it has been eye opening, I also have to say it has been ear closing. (Oh, yes... I hear the collective, "Huh?") At the risk of being very red-neck and labeled as uneducated and rube-ish I have decided to quit watching those talking heads for a while. Fact is, I haven't got any money in the markets, don't have a dime to spare to buy gold (or anything else, for that matter), and me getting over informed is simply giving myself over to the depression that looms in my genetic background. It isn't productive and I can do nothing to stop it from happening. So, to save my sanity, to keep the dinners coming to my family and the laundry from avalanching and killing the dog I am turning off the television and reading some good books, the best of which will be THE Good Book.

Just another day in paradise, living the dream. Over and out...