Your roots are showing

by Neil Greathouse

Oh, man, do I love a good Christmas tree. We’ve got a fake one in our house (mostly because the words “pre-lit” also mean “zero fighting”), but I wish we could go out and cut one down like we did when I was a kid.


What is it about chopping down a tree that makes us feel like conquerors? Or at least like woodsmen. Thanks Paul Bunyan.

More than 400 years ago, back in 1606, a tree was born on the other side of the country in what we now know as Yosemite National Park. That Sequoia tree was planted before our nation was born, and it’s outlasted every world war, every president, every drought, flood, forest fire and change in climate. It grew to be more than 240 feet tall (that’s higher than every Christmas present you’ve ever received stacked on top of each other) and was a fan favorite of all the park visitors. The tree came crashing down recently and the parks department launched an investigation to find out how this happened.

Why did it fall? Was it a lightning strike, insects or animal infestation, disease, s’mores season kicked in and somebody needed firewood? After several months of investigation, biologists found the reason behind the collapse.

Foot traffic. Think about it for a few minutes and let that sink in. The cause was simply foot traffic — so many people in the park walking on its roots that it slowly choked it to death!

How about you? Would you say that your spiritual roots get trampled on a little during the holidays? The busyness of our lives can be like a Macy’s parade marching across our root structure. Work schedule, packing lunches for the kids, researching what gluten-free even means, ball games after school, paying bills, Googling “Black Friday Fights” the day after Thanksgiving.

After a few weeks in a row like that, it can damage our spiritual roots and set us up for a fall. A catastrophic one. It’s one of the reasons why our Savior asked us to remember Him when we take communion! Because He knew we’d have the tendency to lose track of what’s most important.

The only way your spiritual roots will be healthy is if we feed them.

Jesus wants us to have a Christmas (and the weeks leading up to it) where He’s the center of it, not on the fringe. The only way that Christmas tree will last until the big day is if you water it. Unless you like having pine needles fall into piles under the tree and seeing your dog Sparky eat enough of them to howl in pain trying to pass them in the backyard. And if that sounds like there’s a story behind it, there is. But that’ll have to wait until next time. Merry Christmas!


Neil Greathouse is a pastor at New Life Church in Conway. He and his wife, Gina, have three kids. Neil can be reached at [email protected].