Driving along the highway my daughter asked me, “Mom, why do trees have roots.” I began to give her this botanical definition of this awesome creation that defies gravity, but what it boiled down to was that the roots help to anchor and feed the tree. Her brain works in stages, so I wasn’t surprised when the next day she inquired, “Well why do trees have branches?” Taking my cue from the day prior I just said, the branches are extensions of the tree. They have the flowers and show what the tree is made of i.e. oranges, lemons, flowers, and so on. She then said, “well what happens when you cut down a tree, does it just fall from the root or is there a small thing (she meant stump) left?” Knowing that God was forming an EmpowerMoment, I just said, stumps are reminders of the tree. It doesn’t grow, it just stays there, but when the roots are pulled out the tree no longer lives.
Over the next few days (I guess my brain works in stages too) I asked God to reveal to me the intricate details of this tree thing. He shared with me that this tree thing is like relationships and relationship issues. The root of the matter is what anchors the relationship. For example, the root of your friendship could be trust, honesty, lies, or betrayal. He continued to unveil that the branches bear the fruit of the tree. Meaning, it exposes its intended purpose. Some friendships, rooted in lies, have branches that bear the fruits of mistrust, anger, toxicity, bitterness, and suspicion. In the same way, relationships that are rooted in God, trust, respect, and love bear good fruit. This was interesting because a few weeks later I was reading my Bible and came across this scripture: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-20.
With this, I began to examine my relationships particularly the one with my daughters. My intentions are to bear good fruit, but am I feeding the roots of our relationship the right nutrients? Am I encouraging them, supporting them, chastising them in love, protecting them-but not too much, teaching them good habits, do they know the Lord? All of these things came to mind. When they are away from me, what type of fruit is being exposed? Good fruit. I hope!
The stump. Stumps are what are left over when a bad or sick (or in the way) tree has been cut down. The problem with stumps is they rarely serve a purpose, they do not grow, yet they remain as a reminder of what once was. God revealed to me that sometimes we think we have pulled up a particular issue in our life by the roots, but we have only cut it down to a stump. Certain events in our life may trigger memories, certain phone calls or conversations remind us of what once was, and pictures are there to help us remember what was in the past. When I thought of a stump, the first thing I thought of was tripping over it. Some things are in our life and are in the way. They are useless, reminders of an unfruitful past and we keep tripping over it! In Hebrews we are told, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrew 12:1 KJV. I can’t move forward in my faith and my pursuit of God’s abundance if I keep tripping over stumps! Some trees have to be removed from the root, or at the least destroy the stump!
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1-6 NIV
Isn’t this something to shout about? I am so glad that God is the gardener. Although he prunes and uproots things that hurt, He does it all for our good, so that we can bear much fruit to His glory!
Help me not to miss the beauty of the forest due to being distracted by the trees. Sometimes we come across people and opportunities that do not bear good fruit. Lord it is my prayer that You strengthen my discernment so that I may uproot anything thing that is not like You and You may cultivate and nurture the good that is in me so that I may bear it’s fruit. In Jesus’ name I pray Amen.
Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to examine your “right now.” Are your motives rooted in the things of God? Are your relationships rooted in God’s principles? You may find that you need to uproot some things. Uprooting is not easy. It hurts and forces you to reach to the depths of the cause, but in the end you will be free from the roots of agony and can relish in the good fruit that God help you to bear.
Ladies, tell us how holding on to the stumps in your life have affected you.
Read a related EmpowerMoment: Born This Way
As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They attend Vaughn Forest Church.