28 May 2011

Growing Strong Trees

Biosphere 2 is an intriguing experiment. It was designed to see if humans could replicate conditions necessary to sustain life on other planets. Perhaps it is a great place to visit, but it was not a great place to live for extended periods of time. As a closed system, the experiment failed for a number of reasons; not least of which were labor/management disputes and lack of funding. The University of Arizona has taken it over for research purposes and it is now privately funded.

Photo credit: ppdigital from morguefile.com

Among Biosphere 2's problems was the maintenance of good air quality. Oxygen levels continued to drop during the experiment in part because the trees were not thriving. Eventually, oxygen had to be pumped into the structure to support life. Due to inadequate light levels and lack of wind, the trees were weak and unable to thrive. You see, for a tree to grow tall and strong, it must have wind pushing and pulling at it. Only then can it form the reaction wood necessary to support a larger structure as it grows. Without the reaction wood, the tree grows top heavy and the root system is unsuitable to support it. Down it falls.

So, at the same time I was reading about Biosphere 2 and learning about that experiment, I came across this:

Be strong in the Lord, relying on His mighty strength. (Ephesians 6:10 ISV)

The Lord does not put us in glass houses to grow us, to be His trees; the Lord does not protect us from the storms, the adversities; He exposes us to the bitter winds and the scorching suns of adversity and trial. The Lord is working in us that which is according to His own Nature – eternity, the enduring, the everlasting God – that which will not be easily or hardly carried away. He is putting substance in you. Oh, today we fear that the appeal to become Christians is so often in terms of having an easy or a good time; being happy and enjoying yourself; well, thank God for ALL divine joy, but this is true to the House, to the City, that the first thing the Lord is working toward and seeking to work into His people is that substantial, steadfast, enduring faithfulness that is according to His own nature. Substantial! Oh for substantial Christians that don’t need coddling and nursing and running after all the time; being pandered to to get them to go on or stand up. Men and women like cedars of Lebanon; like the hewn stones – weighty, accountable, and responsible to carry weight – and all that is meant by strength.

I can only remind you again of what a large place that has in the Word of God: be strong, be strong in the Lord in the strength of His might, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Think again. Want to understand why the winds are allowed to blow so fiercely... the storms? To get us away from that natural, easy-going-ness or cheapness, lightness, frivolousness and to make us people of weight. Strength – through testing, through adversity – strength... to endure throughout all ages. There is much which is going to be carried away in the last great testing, and if, therefore, trial and adversity is the only way to deepen us, to put caliber into us, I suppose we must expect more of it as the time shortens.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: Aspects of the City

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