The Ancient Red Woods
Last fall I had the opportunity to visit San Francisco to witness two of my friends get married. The entire trip, wedding (bride and groom), and reuniting with some of my great friends was amazing! However, the biggest highlight of my experience was the opportunity I had to visit Muir Woods, one of the nation’s largest ancient Red Wood Forest, Sequoias. These trees are nothing short of remarkable. As I meandered through the national parked I ran into one of the park rangers who shared with us that Sequoias are some of the tallest trees to ever grow. They reach on average 220ft tall and can live for over 600 years, talk about aging well. What the ranger told us next stunned me. For how high these trees soar in the air the roots are in fact very shallow. Rather than digging deep vertically, they spread substantially horizontally.
Hypnotized by the poetics of these beautiful living organisms, I leaned in lost in the ranger’s words has he elaborated on how these trees survived for so long. It was through community! The roots of one tree would intertwine with the roots of the neighboring trees. The trees developed deep grooves in their enormous trunks to help catch and guide rainwater or fog (which becomes liquid once it hits the tree) down towards the roots. In other words, each tree was collecting water to feed not just itself, but the roots of its surrounding tree family. This blew my mind!
We Are Designed For Each Other
Like Sequoias I believe we are designed to reach amazing heights through the extraordinary connections, relationships, and communities we form in our life. We are designed to feed one another as well as be fed by others. This glaring parallel can be a stark contrast from the world’s individualistic thinking of today. The ideologies of “You do you,” “Go get yours,” “Worry about yourself,” are all challenged by both God’s creations and His word. He calls us to much more! Immediately the first thing that came to mind was small group, my community. I couldn’t wait to get back home to share this story with them and tell them, “This is us guys…we are Sequoias!”
The Early Church
Acts 2 showcases how the early church started in close-knit communities where believers thrived by giving and pouring into one another, as well as receive. They shared their resources, broke bread and praised God with (and for) one another. What is so breathtaking is that this was the foundation the early Church was able to build and grow on!
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 )
If you are not in a small group, I want to truly urge you to get plugged into a group today! This is where I personally experienced my faith grow as well as develop lifelong relationships.
Community Fights For/With You
In the Old Testament, 1 Samuel, David and some of his men had just won an epic battle against their enemies the Amalekites who had stolen everything from them. They retrieved everything they had lost, property, plunder, and even their loved ones. However, while many men physically fought for their victory some were too weak to join their brothers in battle and stayed back. Some men selfishly wanted David to return only the loved ones of those who didn’t fight without any of their property or plunder, but David refused! He reminded the men, and us, that what they received was from the Lord and, “… The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. (1 Samuel 30:24-25 )A sharing community was so important for the people of God that David wrote it into law. We see the early values of taking care of your community.
Feed Each Other
Maybe sharing for you is not a physical resource but your time or your story. Whatever it may be we are called to pour and be poured into. Muir Woods exhibits thousands of years of how each tree played a critical role in the survival of the next, just like the early church. They are a living breathing community that figuratively and literally fed each other. Like a Sequoia I believe for us to reach the sweeping heights in our lives that God has designed us to grow into, God is calling us to stretch our roots both vertically in Christ as well as horizontally intertwine our lives with others through community to grow together.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up at the ‘Next Steps’ table or visit https://epicbaltimore.com/groups
Written By: Beresford Pratt, Communications Team