A couple of miles from where my wife and I live, a huge, magnificent old hardwood tree tangled with winter and lost. This enormous tree, well over 80 feet tall, literally split right down the middle, almost as if someone had unzipped its massive trunk, with one side toppling to the left and the other to the right. Now, it looks as if two gigantic trees have been cut down juxtaposed to one another, fanning out in two opposite directions across the ground.
And yet, all around that tree are any number of other trees of similar age and size that are still standing. I was intrigued by this, and sought to find out why this one tree had succumbed to the pressure when the others had not. The answer was soon obvious.
The grand old tree looked glorious on the outside. But a closer examination soon revealed that all was not well on the inside. In fact, the old tree had no inside, not for the first several, crucial feet up into its trunk. Apparently, over the process of time, it had developed a massive, gaping hole up right through its heart. At best, it was a mere shell of its former self, hiding a hollow, empty interior with a glorious but deceptive façade on the exterior.
What a lesson this presents us. And what a warning as well! Life is full of storms. It has well been noted that, at any given time, most of us are either entering a storm, in the midst of a storm, or just coming out of a storm. And when storms hit, they apply pressure! Moreover, they do this without respect to persons, coating each and every person equally in their misery.
Why then do some people weather the storms of life better than others do? Why do some survive the storms of life while others cave in under the pressure?
While there are probably many answers to that question, one of them most certainly is this: those who are best suited to withstand the storms of life are those who have substance on the inside! Pity the man (or woman) who attempts to stand up against the storms of life with nothing but emptiness on the inside! Almost invariably, the outcome will be the same. Down around them will come crashing the life they have built. And when it is over, all will see that (in the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:27, KJV): “great was the fall of it.”
This very moment, here in East Tennessee, we are between winter storms. One has passed; but we have already been forewarned that others are coming. Perhaps now is the time, therefore, to be out making some inspections. If you are a homeowner, now is the time to ascertain whether the trees around your home literally have any substance. For later, when the storms hit, it will probably be too late to do so.
And the same is true for our lives. An open and honest examination of your heart will show whether or not your spiritual life has any substance - whether your heart is rock solid or whether your life is actually hollow on the inside.
Perhaps the most fitting way to close this short post is with the words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (7:24-27, NIV):
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Wind and rain or snow and ice – the point remains the same. Only a solid foundation can bear up under the storms of life. Otherwise, one will fall with a great crash.