On the west coast of the United States are found the tallest living tree species on earth. Coastal redwoods have been known to grow taller than 300 feet in height, with diameters up to 20 feet. Some are so wide they actually have roads going through them.
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 4-6 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 weren’t 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 mankind hasn’t changed. His desire for men 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 God every day.
From the beginning of time God’s idea of manhood included dependence, submission, and surrender.
For much of my life—more than I’d like to admit—this was not my working definition of a man. It had been engrained 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 on that Crucible Project weekend 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 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 men who feel what I feel. I need the unconditional acceptance of brothers who mess up, just like I do.
My heart is tender toward my Heavenly Father for the support network He’s surrounded me with. I’m grateful that with their help I can stand tall.
– By Dan Kuiper
Dan completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009. He is an author and speaker whose passion is to help those looking for love, healing and grace in their lives to find it in relationship with the Heavenly Father. Dan’s first book, When Father is a Bad Word, illustrates the parallels between our relationship with our earthly father and our perception of our Heavenly Father. Follow Dan’s blogs on his website: findingfatherslove.com.
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