What does our country, our church and our family life have in common with a forest?
There has been a severe drought in California these last few years and the Northern California forests have been especially hard hit. The lack of water has stressed our beautiful conifer trees causing them to become susceptible to a little creature call the bark beetle. Stressed trees equate to suitable host material for bark beetles and successful reproduction results in more beetles and higher levels of tree mortality.
How can something so small kill something so big? Individual bark beetles are not much larger than a piece of cooked rice. Not only are they small and difficult to see, their activity is often scattered and hardly noticeable.
Bark beetles survive in trees that are stressed, diseased, or injured; either by human activity or during storms or wildfires. In the battle between trees and tree-killing beetles the two principle interacting factors are tree vigor and beetle numbers. When beetle populations are low, healthy trees often produce enough resinous pitch to drown and “pitchout” the beetles that attempt to enter. When trees are stressed they may be unable to produce sufficient amounts of defensive pitch. When beetle populations are high, even an apparently healthy tree may not be able to produce enough pitch to ward off hundreds of attacks (a mass attack). In addition, many beetles carry fungi that further impair the tree’s defense system.
We are like those towering conifer trees. God created us to grow tall and strong and be beautiful in His eyes. However, unless we are planted next to the “river of life” with our roots deep next to the river… we may succumb like the stressed trees.
In psalm 1:3 God says:
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”
So how do “good people” even Christians become susceptible to beetles? -By being “good”. They are the pillars of the family or community or just overall respectable people. They feel “good” because they don’t do “bad” things. They attend church on Sundays or listen to Christian programing. Yes, they may be saved through the redemption of Christ’s shed blood. These good people, however will be less fruitful or even have their lives cut short if they continue this lifestyle. Like the infected conifer trees… fewer pine cones or being cut down to prevent fire hazard. The beetles are such little insects… it’s little things adding up in people’s lives that cause huge amounts of harm.
Let’s just look at the first three verses of the 1st Psalm.
- Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2. but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
- That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Attending regular Sunday worship service is good. However, this living water available to the soul is just enough to keep it alive. Our souls also need deep watering, water that only comes when our spirit is immersed in God’s living Word, the Holy Bible. Meditating upon His word during our busy days and into the night before sleep. (psalm:2). Without the deep watering people become susceptible to beetles.
What are beetles?
Here are a few examples of beetles in our lives:
- Indifference – Indifference to the Lord’s law.
- It doesn’t matter
- It doesn’t affect me
- It’s (God’s Word) is outdated and legalistic
- It doesn’t apply to me
- Nobody cares, so I don’t
- I’m good – Self-aggrandizement.
- I’m at church on Sundays that makes me good.
- I don’t have the vices others I know have
- I don’t swear, drink, gamble
- I take good care of my kids
- I am a faithful husband or wife, not like…
- I’m good because I don’t do all the “bad” things others do…
- Idols and Idol worship – anything that replaces or comes before God in a person’s life.
- Job or position
- Worshiping myself… my body, my being
- Pride – Oh, that battle!
- Pride in myself, how I’m better… because
- Pride of things
- Pride of life
- Pride of lusts
- Lust – Desire for what we don’t have
- Lust is a craving that goes beyond natural desire where life is focused on achieving the desired at all cost.
- Following ones “plan” for the prize regardless of God’s plan in a person’s life.
- Lust, kicks everything aside to realize the goal or prize.
- Lust is typically associated with sex… but lust is so much more…
When Lust realizes the prize, pride kicks in applauding the accomplishment bringing the idol one step closer and with a soul indifferent to God’s plan… cutting off God’s plan, God’s will, God’s love, God’s laws – The beetle circle is complete cutting life to the branches of the tree.
Diseased trees, can only be saved early in the process by deep watering through lots, and lots of ground saturating rain so that the trees can withstand the attack through the “pitching-out” process.
People unlike trees, can be redeemed through a turning back to the Lord. However, the longer the beetles infest the harder it is for a person to come around and actually hear the Lord. Making time for life changing communication with God, through prayer and the reading of His Word. Seeking the Lord comes naturally, but by the time most people mature the beetles already rule… Indifference has invaded the heart and an unnatural cycle begins.
Most of the diseased trees will perish. Some through wildfires… taking healthy trees with them. Others will be cut down, felled by ax or saw to keep the forest healthy and reduce fire dangers. The whole forest suffers. Birds lose nesting and roosting spots. Deer lose shelter, squirrels lose winter storage and we lose the wonderful air cleaning process provided through a healthy forest.
It works that way with people, too. People that are in an unhealthy spiritual lifestyle (I’ve been there”) like the diseased trees, also have negative effects on healthy Christians. Letting beetles like abortion, drug use, moral decline and addictions of all kinds run free among us causes a weakening of the Church. A church that is less effective, with families that are splintered and broken. This reflects up, up, up… our cities… State and yes even our Country.
It all starts with indifference to the Lords Word. If this resonates with you, stop and make a change of direction in your life. The best possible change. Turn to Jesus. Look to see where your idols are… Tell Him you are sorry. Make time for daily one on one time with the God of the universe. I hold tight to the promise that IF my roots are next to the river of Life… I will yield its fruit in season and my leaf will not wither—whatever I do prospers. Isn’t that everyone’s desire? To fulfill our lives with the power of God?Plant your soul next to the river of life and marvel at the results. Hope to see you there…