I’ve been looking at my pictures of the redwood forest in Northern California. The trees are big! Our pine tree in back yard that is over two and a half feet in diameter looks big; but it is small compared to a relatively small five-foot diameter redwood tree. Amazingly, redwoods that are 10-18 feet in diameter are common, and it staggers the imagination knowing that the diameter of the General Sherman Redwood is over 32 feet!
A typical farmed redwood tree may weigh 50,000 pounds, but some redwoods weigh over 2,000,000 pounds! Interestingly, about half the weight is in the water. The redwood bark may be 2-feet thick, and a huge redwood tree may provide wood to build 30-35 homes.
Water is necessary for life. The redwoods grow to 250-350 feet tall and require over 100 gallons per tree per day. But it rains a lot in these forests, snows in the winter, and fog is prevalent; therefore, they are seldom thirsty. The root systems of redwoods are shallow, and that would mean a heavy wind or flood could topple them easily. But as they reach for life-giving water, a mature tree spreads its roots over 2 to 4 acres; and with 8 to 20 trees per acre, the root systems overlap and intertwine which results in a strong foundation for these top-heavy giants. They effectively support each other in rough times.
Light is also necessary for life. God engineered plants to reach for or aim toward light. This is called phototropism. The same is true of these giant trees. Programmed to be tall anyway, they continue to reach for life – for sunlight. Lone trees out in the open will not be as tall as those in the forest with a thick canopy of foliage; and they are also open to more danger. There is protection among its neighbors.
The mature redwoods are basically fire-resistant. The thick, fibrous bark does not burn easily; and as a protective shell, it insulates the tree which allows it to survive most fires. The thick bark also provides protection of another kind: it has the ability to withstand fungus, disease, and insect attacks. This is why these trees live so long. The oldest known redwoods are about 3,000 years old. Only the bristlecone pines (about 5,000 years old) are known to be older.
Looking at the pictures of these magnificent trees, my mind gravitates toward humanity. I see similarities. No – not about size, but about other features and qualities.
The redwood’s root system covers a wide area which gives it stability in inclement weather. In the same way, our roots in healthy relationships with family, church, and society give us stability during “inclement” situations such as death, job loss, health deterioration, and more. In our many storms of life, we need each other for emotional and physical support. But our strong roots in a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ will help us even more in this life on earth, as well as throughout eternity.
A straight tree is stronger than a crooked tree, and its wood is useable in more situations. Likewise, a morally and intellectually straight man is stronger, trustworthy, where an immoral or double-minded man is weak, confuses people, and leads people down the path of destruction.
Trees must reach for the light to survive. In the same manner, man must reach for light – truth – to survive. We cannot survive very long, either societally or spiritually, if we live in spiritual and moral darkness. We cannot mature as morally strong individuals if we resist truth.
As the thick bark protects the trees, living in truth will protect us. Knowing the truth about various aspects of life – food, environment, chemicals, health, morals, physiology, and a lot more – can help us live safely. And purposefully living according to the truths found in the Bible will protect us in many ways most people don’t yet understand.
As the trees depend on water from the sky for life, man depends on guidance from the sky – direction from God – for life. Psalm 1:1-2 tell us not to follow the advice of ungodly people, but to meditate on and live according to the words of the Lord. Psalm 33:11 tells us that God’s plans are good, healthy, and beneficial. And Proverbs 14:11-12 warn us that man’s apparently powerful plans will fail in the end, but God’s seemingly weak plans are actually strong and will stand forever. Trust in Jesus: Reach for Life.