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There is a beautiful street close to my neighborhood.  It is exceptionally beautiful during Indiana autumn and Indiana spring.  In the spring, the beautiful, white, flowering trees that line the street are another reminder of why I love living in Indiana.  When there is a breeze, the tiny flowers float across in the air and it’s just like a commercial, or Disney movie.  However, after the kind of spring storm that Indiana is famous for our last little storm blast there are sometimes more than blossoms on on the road, there are branches.  Sometimes, I can remember even seeing one of those pretty trees partially uprooted.

Those trees, a type of flowering pear, are beautiful, but fragile.  The limbs are just strong enough to hold the blossoms, leaves, and not much else.  And when I witnessed the tree that was partially uprooted, I clearly saw the root system was shallow, and the roots were not large.

For every Spiritual Truth there is a physical metaphor.

The obvious, “surface” lesson is one straight out of Jesus’ own words: when storms come, the tree falls over, if the roots aren’t deep.  However, that lesson is only the first lesson.  What is the deeper, different, a little off-kilter, lesson?

ROOTS are a picture, a lesson, to me.  Roots are developed over time, through nurture.  Roots happen when there is seed, good soil, sun and water.  If WE were trees, roots would be what keep us “grounded” (literally) and are the ethics and values that we acquire over time.  For the BELIEVER & FOLLOWER, roots are developed through the practice of FOLLOWING/LEARNING the philosophy and lessons (commandments) of Jesus.  It is the part of the action, in FOLLOWING –  it is something WE do, something WE have control over.

The WIND.  What if the wind (in MY metaphor) were not necessarily adversity, in this case, but something Jesus Himself draws as a picture for Nicodemus: the Spirit. When Jesus speaks to Nic, in the evening, and drew a comparison of the Spirit to the wind/breeze in the trees I had to ask myself: would the Spirit blow through a person so hard that there would be danger of damage to that person?  I think that the answer could be, “Yes”. the greatest force the universe knows (the Breath of God) could easily mangle a human as easily as a strong wind could tear limbs off a tree.

I think the POWER OF THE BREATH OF GOD (The Holy Spirit) would be a dangerous force for humanity, if the Spirit were not beneficent.  God’s Spirit, that leads us into all truth and comforts us, is not a mindless “thing” that haphazardly blows, though it may seem so to us.  God’s Spirit knows what Jesus said to the woman in Samaria: “My Father is seeking worshipers who worship Him in SPIRIT AND TRUTH.”    Some teach, and I agree, that TRUTH is what we “realize” as we seek to know God, and SPIRIT is the mysterious, uncontrollable,  “Breath of God” that gifts, comforts, empowers, and also leads us to where the TRUTH is.  We need both the KNOWLEDGE/TRUTH (which we can sometimes explain or work out) and the MYSTERY/SPIRIT (which we cannot explain, but accept on faith).

And this is what I believe: The deeper the roots, the stronger the wind of the Spirit can blow. The more one learns, the more knowledge about God one acquires, the deeper their “roots” – they can withstand even the strongest wind of the Spirit to take them even farther, empower them more, teach them more.

It’s only a hypothesis, and I obviously believe a part of the Spirit’s strength is evident in our weakness, but those who seek and work to nurture the deepening of their own roots (through the knowledge, seeking and following of Jesus) experience the ability to continually take on more and more of the power of the Spirit in direct proportion to the depth of their roots.

We need both, SPIRIT and TRUTH.  One is not balanced without the other.  The knowledge and passion to gain knowledge of God is what WE OFFER, the Spirit is what HE offers.

In this “orchard of life” need both.