Today I have a notion to chat about drip lines.
Drip lines are present in the nuclear industry but I am not well-versed enough to discuss nuclear physics. The drip line that I want to discuss today has to do with trees.
There is an old oak tree on our farm near Sherrill’s Ford, NC that I seriously imagine was present in its same spot when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
I know it was there when my grandfather was born in 1892 because I have seen a tin print with that tree in the background. Crazy!
To this day, this old oak tree is a mighty specimen of a living thing as it literally towers over the farmhouse.
If in your mind’s eye you can imagine a giant geyser shooting up from the ground in a single column of a trunk to spray out in limbs that then bend back to the ground. If you can imagine this you can make out an irregular circumference at the base of the tree.
This irregular circle is called the “drip line.” For most trees, the drip line offers a fairly good map of how far away from a tree its roots run in search of nutrients and water so that it can survive.
God seems to have designed trees with the knowledge that no matter how far it reaches out, it can never extend beyond its drip line if it is to survive. The root system beneath the surface always limits the tree’s capacity to send out limbs and produce fruit.
For trees, everything depends upon the drip line. And again, the tree cannot extend beyond this invisible force field.
Contrast this with our ultra mobile culture. It’s pretty difficult to have a drip line if we are constantly on the go.
Yes, I know…jobs often force us to be on the go constantly. Yet,interestingly, I am seeing a rather new trend or at least a new trend to me, for grandparents to relocate to the towns and cities where their grandkids are living.
A new family has just moved into our neighborhood from Buffalo, NY. Work had brought their daughters and their sons-in-laws down South and this semi-retired couple could not accept that their drip line had moved. So they moved too!
Today they are establishing a new drip line. They have actually planted a new coral Japanese maple tree in their yard and these new roots have taken hold of the earth! Its drip line is just beginning.
The flip side of this drip line phenomenon is that our old oak tree on the farm has been standing in one place for over one hundred and fifty years. And, because of its need for a drip line it will be there until it dies.
While culture has driven us willy-nilly into a frenzy where it is impossible to establish a drip line, the converse is a root-bound existence with limited growth opportunities. Can there be a happy medium?
Well, maybe! I am thinking about old Abraham this morning and the fact that God blasted him way-yonder past his drip line.
“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you (Genesis 12:1 NIV).’”
What God was asking Abraham to do was unheard of in his day. It was totally unthinkable.
God was calling Abraham to leave the safety of the tribe! Nobody with one eye and half a brain did such a thing! It’s dangerous beyond the drip line of the tribe!
But get this, if Abraham responded to God’s call, he would receive incalculable blessings! “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2 NIV).”
If we follow Christ and make him head over all of our life, he can move the drip line! We can have our cakes and eat them too!
Let me recap:
If we are root bound, we will probably survive but can we really live? If we are driven willy-nilly into a frenzy, we will probably survive but can we really live?
If we are following Christ, he can move the drip line so that no matter where we find ourselves, there will be structure and nourishment that will enable us to thrive. Abraham’s call was to allow himself and his family to be led by God.
God rewarded Abraham for his obedience. He became the father of an entire nation and as the kiddie song sings, “I am one of them!”
No matter where we find ourselves we are still Christ’s missionaries to the world. No matter where we are we still have a job.
Our job is to interrupt poverty, injustice, loneliness and hurt wherever we find it. If we agree to be led by Christ, he has promised us abundance.
“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage (Psalm 16:6 KJV).”