by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
My parents just had a tree removed. I liked it and was sad to see it go. However, limbs had started falling off. Some of them dangerously close to their home. Then, Mom saw toadstools around the tree, and they knew it had to go. Despite how it looked on the outside, they knew it was dead. I asked Mom how she knew, and she said toadstools pop up when something has a dead root system. Interestingly, when the tree removers cut it down, it split down the middle. Not only had it died, but it had also separated long ago, while bark continued to grow on the outside.
I found this fascinating, since the Bible repeatedly refers to us, believers, as trees. In Jeremiah and Psalms, it says when we trust in the Lord, we are trees with deep, healthy roots. In the New Testament, it refers to us as fruit-bearing trees. In the book of Isaiah, it calls us Oaks of Righteousness. So, if God compares us to trees, what puts our root systems in danger, and what are the signs?
If we are trees, busyness is our canker disease. Face it, when we are busy, the first thing we back-burner is Jesus. He’s the most accommodating relationship we have. Our families and jobs aren’t always so understanding. We begin skipping intimacy with Him in prayer and scripture time. Instead of Him being the center of our life, He becomes like a distant relative. We love Him, we just don’t think about Him or call Him very often.
In Galatians, it says when Jesus is the center of our life, we bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. If He quits being the center of our life, we stop bearing fruit, and we may have some dead limbs falling. This is damaging to ourselves and our marriages.
As a Marriage Counselor, I see a lot of dead, falling limbs, and toadstools. Dead limbs are the things couples used to do to nurture the relationship. Time together, date nights, praying together, emotional and physical intimacy. The good stuff falls away and is replaced by toadstools. Here are some common fungi: having your face in your phone while your spouse is with you, dwindling intimacy, pornography, substance abuse, emotional affairs, emotional numbness, and so on. By the time marriages hit this point, one or both parties are thinking about cutting the tree down with affairs, separation, or divorce. Luckily, Jesus is not as quick to grab the chainsaw.
There is a story Jesus told in Luke 13 about a man who planted a tree that quit bearing fruit. The man assumed it was dead and wanted it cut down. But his gardener asked permission to give time and special nurturing. He believed He could coax it back to life. Clearly, in this story, Jesus is the Gardener, and He sees a lot more in us and in our marriages than we do.
As my parents just found out, tree removal is dangerous and expensive. It also leaves a big hole where something precious used to be. All they are left with are tiny pieces that are destined to be thrown away or burned.
I pray you will pull your face out of your phone or laptop and assess the condition of your root system. If you think you need some nurturing call out to Jesus, then call us at Caring Counseling Ministries. We will give you and your marriage the extra nurturing it needs to start thriving again.