But what is most amazing about coastal redwoods is how long they live. There are redwood trees on the west coast that are more than 2,000 years old. Think about that—some of these giant trees were saplings when Jesus was in diapers.
What makes the longevity of the redwoods so incredible is that many of the mature trees have survived drought, forest fires, and the fiercest of storms–even though their roots grow only four to six feet into the ground.
So why are these giant trees so resilient? How do they continue to stand strong with such shallow roots? It’s because the roots of individual redwoods grow intertwined with the roots of their neighbors.
These trees have a simple, yet essential support system. They are holding hands with each other underground. Our awesome Creator God designed a nurturing underground network for these trees that allows them to withstand potentially deadly conditions and continue to grow heavenward.
Redwoods that stand alone are sure to fall in the first significant storm that comes their way. The same can be said of us when we attempt to stand alone and brave the elements of life. God has created us as relational beings. We were not meant to go it alone.
Way back in the Garden of Eden, God’s own critique of His marvelous creation identified but one thing that was less than stellar. God assessed, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Adam needed others.
God’s appraisal of humankind hasn’t changed. His desire for us today is that we, too, rely on others; that we be a part of a support system; that we stand arm in arm with those around us; that we help each other to combat the storms of life so we can grow closer to Him every day.
From the beginning of time God’s grand plan for us--for both women and men--included dependence, submission, and surrender.
For much of my life—more than I’d like to admit—my working definition of a man most assuredly did not include the words dependence, submission, and surrender. It had been ingrained in me, mostly by an alcoholic father, that a real man needs no help. And, even if he did, he was to never expose his “weakness” by admitting it. A real man depended on no one. And if a real man were to fall, he was expected, to use a tired phrase from my childhood that still causes a twinge in my gut, to pick himself up by the bootstraps.
That mindset was the wall between me and the connectedness to other men I silently yearned for. Then one fall weekend in Texas six years ago, God, out of His great love for me, took a sledgehammer to that wall.
It was at a men's retreat put on by The Crucible Project that my definition of a man was forever changed. A real man, I observed, is not afraid to be vulnerable. A real man is not ashamed to be honest. A real man embodies a dependence on a faithful and loving God; who extends His hand to the fallen, not wagging a finger of guilt, but offering the grip of grace.
I am not ashamed to say it. I can’t do it on my own. I need the support of others who understand my journey. I need the compassion of friends who feel what I feel. I need the unconditional acceptance of fellow strugglers who mess up, just like I do.
I encourage everyone--but particularly those whose hearts have been wounded--to build a support network; to surround themselves with caring souls who will give them the understanding, compassion, and support we all need. With the help of God and others, we can stand tall.