7 03 2014

Have you ever been to Muir Woods? There is much for us to learn about meeting the deepest needs of human beings amongst the inhabitants of that geographical location that lies just north of San Francisco. It is there you can enter into a breathtaking experience of God’s creative nature. The subject of our lesson is the sequoia tree. They are some of the grandest living things on this planet. The timber can reach the heights of almost 250 feet into the sky and they survive as many as 1500 birthdays! Like we at the Jersey Shore who can’t help but sense power and grandeur when we stand at the edge of the sands and hear the ocean roar, you too feel teeny tiny when you walk through the giants born in northern California. But the reason that these saplings survive the seasons for centuries is because they have been wired to depend upon one another!

The Sequoia tree’s roots only go about 4 feet deep into the ground. On its own, it wouldn’t have a chance to thrive and grow as it does in the conditions it has been placed within. The Sequoia really have learned to become interdependent with one another. They only flourish in groves. Their roots actually intermingle with one another and rather than steal and compete with the plant next to them- they complete and strengthen their neighbor in the process! No Sequoia stands solo! And what an awesome sight it is to witness the fruit of their teamwork. And what a true rush of adrenaline it is to us Christians when we practice the model left for us by these Sequoias!

This past week, I had the privilege to eat with, sleep with, walk with, talk with and work with 11 members of The Lighthouse Church as we ministered together in San Marcos of the Dominican Republic. These are people that I see every week on a regular basis. These are people that I know by name and would classify easily as my family and friends. But something magical happened these last 7 days when we all got together and via a God initiated mission mutually melted together as a single movement.

Meals shared at a joint table can work wonders in opening the door to relational connection. Our present generation has missed out on what used to be a family staple. But for one week we ate breakfast, lunch and supper together with no television, radio or Wi-Fi to steal our attention. Cooked by a talented woman named Norma, we lingered and laughed and made eye contact without distraction as we tasted Dominican delicacies such as yucca, avocado salad, taquitos, papa fritas and pescado. We even did the dishes in teams with no griping and complaining. My expertise was the wonders I could perform with glass cleaner and paper towels!

One of our tasks this time was to tile the showers and kitchen in a neighborhood center that we constructed over the last few years. I admit that I am not naturally gifted in the area of building and remodeling and construction projects. But I love coming alongside of someone to assist. One of the highlights of my week was being able to help and learn from talented men such as Dave Sonntag and Dave Anthony, Bob Standeven and Tony Gallo. These men were all very patient with me as they instructed me along the way. Before you know it I was grouting and cutting tile and really feeling like I belonged. I loved it and it was only possible because the guys who could have done it by themselves didn’t do it by themselves! I know we church people could come together if we would just be willing to humbly check our egos at the door! Christianity was designed to operate as a team rather than serve as a spotlight for spoiled divas! There was some sweet harmony being heard in heaven because we just said no to solos!

Community literally means “common unity.” I believe that most churches are not celebrating the family aspect of what God provides because we are too much about ourselves and not enough about God and one another. How many times do we come to church without being the church? If you can’t wait to leave then you will never arrive! You can’t do unity in a hurry! You can’t grow in love unless you are willing to have your roots interchanged and messed with! The dominant theme of this journey to Puerto Plata was “Self-Forgetfulness.” It was not thinking less about you but truly thinking of yourself less. We are so consumed in this culture with how everything affects us. We even go to worship only thinking of will this sermon affect me and whether we will sing the songs that I like or hoping that so and so will reach out to me. God said life is found when we give it all away. Love is all about putting God first and others second. I have to honestly say the love was moving and grooving as we partnered rather than postured this past week!

I thank God I went with the adults to San Marcos. I at one time pronounced that I would never do that again because I get so weary of the whining that older people do that the younger people don’t! But while I can connect with the youth as a mentor- this time I connected with my brothers as a man! I am more determined than ever to not miss the intense wealth that God has planted all around me. I have learned that I grow better not only when my roots go deep but when I allow them to become interdependent with those who are also soaring to the skies! Thank you Lord for making discipleship something that can only happen in a group setting! I am thankful to Jesus for giving me the privilege of becoming a stronger disciple on this trip to San Marcos. Let us pray to become Sequoias and not squatters who are here today and gone tomorrow because we have never owned the ground that we were placed within.

On another quick note, each year we have a baseball day with the men in the San Marcos neighborhood and even though I just recently celebrated another birthday that puts me in my mid 50’s- I had a blast from my past when I smacked the baseball way over the left fielder’s head! Had there been a fence, it would have been a home run! But because there wasn’t one and because I can’t run these days to save my life- I was thrown out at second base- Are you kidding me!!! And a good laugh was had by the rest of my Sequoia teammates!



One response

8 03 2014
Dennis Hall

Wow! Those bonds go a whole lot further than four feet! Eternal roots bonding and growing together. Thank You Lord!

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