Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12
What follows is an excerpt from In the Shelter of the Fold by Mari Jones. The book is a collection of stories from farm life which, although written some years ago, contain spiritual lessons for us today.
Sermons In Trees
‘How did you get on?’ and ‘What caused it?’ Those were the questions we asked each other for days after the devastating gale that struck us — questions which often recurred as we trod twigs and small pieces of slate underfoot.
Recently, in order to widen one stretch of the main road, it had been necessary to remove a whole row — the outer row — of the evergreen trees of the forest, and we remarked on how well-rooted they were. Since they were the ones that nearly always had to face the very teeth of the storms, they had had to push their roots deep down for strength.
At the same time they kindly sheltered the rest of the trees, and so there was no need for these to waste their strength in rooting deep. They seemed to live a superficial life, concentrating their growth upwards in search of light; they did not even bother to throw out branches, except at their tops. Wherever any form of life is found, there is always a striving after light. But they were all flung down like matchwood by the storm. How sad we were next day to see the area denuded!
Not only these, but many old trees also fell prey to the storm, and came down headlong before it — trees that had survived many a shaking before this. Every tree spreads its strongest roots in the direction of the prevailing wind; but this time the wind came from an unexpected quarter, and they were struck at their weakest point, the spot they had neglected to guard. This storm had tested both the young trees, not deeply rooted, and also the older, unprepared ones.
Near the road below our house stood a great ash tree. The point where the trunk divided into two main branches seemed to invite the rain to loiter there, with the obvious result that it caused rot to set in. One of these mighty branches came crashing down across the road, putting a stop to all traffic for a while. There is no doubt that the other branch will follow. Little did we know of this weakness until it was put to the test by the storm.
It does not take a great storm to bring down a diseased or cankerous tree.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)