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"When God's Grace is Your Foundation"

A few years after I moved to Southwest Georgia, we had a storm with several inches of rain and strong winds. There is a tree on the road I take all the time that was knocked over on its side by strong winds. I remember someone telling me when preparing for an ice storm while living in the Atlanta Metro that if the weight of the ice causes the tree to lean while exposing its roots, it's best to cut it down because the tree will not survive. So, when I saw this tree, I began to think that the property owners would soon cut the tree and have it removed. It's been ten years now, and that never happened. But what happened was the tree continued to live. Each spring, the tree produces leaves on every branch despite being on its side. The tree responds to the season just as an upright tree. So, what would allow this to happen?

A simple explanation is that the tree's root is still attached to a foundation. The roots remain in the soil, and this property collects runoff water from surrounding ditches. So, it has a constant supply of what it needs to flourish. The significant variable is the property owner never cut down the tree and was allowed to live. There is so much we can learn from this tree. I mean, we can talk about God's grace. Just as the owner gave grace to allow the tree to live, Titus 3:7 tells us, "so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." A reminder that we cannot save ourselves; it is by God's choice who lives with Him forever. Or we can consider that the tree on its side can't do anything independently. Still, everything it needs to survive gets provided. Likewise, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." It is an excellent reminder of the opportunity to become stronger in God when we are willing to admit we are weak and need Him to live.

But I think about what this tree may be going through if I were that tree. I wonder how many people would have said to give up on me, cut me down, or discard me. How many would have passed by me, labeling me useless, hopeless, or worthless? How many times in our lives have we heard that said about us? Because of mistakes we've made in the past, people may feel that there is no hope for our future or that we are no longer worthy. However, I consider 1 Peter 5:10, which reads, " And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast ." God's grace has many benefits, but a great benefit is showing up when we are at our lowest to pick us up, restore us, and help us learn from our mistakes. In other words, God's grace helps us to grow in Him. What can we learn from the tree to help us have that mentality? The key is in the root, still in the earth's foundation.

Isaiah 33:6 reads, " He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure ." If we keep our roots connected to God, He will be a foundation for us. Just as the tree gets nutrients and water from the foundation through its roots to stay alive, God also provides us with salvation, wisdom, and knowledge to survive. The key is always to respect the truth of God's Word and remain faithful that Jesus was, is, and is to come. Respectful that God is the Great I Am who is just as a King and merciful as a father. So, with our steadfast roots in the foundation of God's kingdom, we can last any storm. We can survive through the ridicule. We can win even when people say we will lose. We gain this confidence in Matthew 7:25, which reads, " 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 ."

So, let us keep our roots connected to the foundation Jesus Christ laid! And here is a bonus to ensure God's grace continues to flow through your roots. The same grace God gives to us is what we should give to others. Let us not look at the tree or each other and say there is no worth. But instead, let us remind each other of our value in God. Let us encourage one another that we don't look like what we've been through. Let us hold each other accountable for forgetting how we used to be and press forward towards a new life in Christ, a life that leads us to eternal life. Let's give each other grace and a chance to move on from mistakes and live. Now, we can see what Paul was saying. Money is great. Mansions are awesome. But God's grace is sufficient, and it's enough. Because money and mansions will fade, but God's grace is everlasting! And through God's grace, we'll always have value, be strong, be forgiven, and have a chance to live free. Stay rooted in the foundation of God's truth, and you will be like the tree I see daily. Better yet, you will be like a tree planted by a river; you will not be moved!

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