Beneath the Surface
We have much to learn from icebergs and trees. Yes, you read that correctly—icebergs and trees. Researchers have concluded that only ten percent of the volume of an iceberg is seen at the surface of the water due to the density of pure ice and the density of seawater. It can be difficult to tell the shape of the underwater portion by only looking at the area above the surface. While icebergs can be immense, their greatness lies underneath, often unknown and unrecognized from the surface. The same is true with trees. These leafy giants stretch toward the clouds, finding themselves at the center of much attention, but the strength of the tree is not in its height, the length of its branches, or the color of its leaves; the beauty of the tree is completely dependent on the strength of what is hidden underground—the roots.
When evaluating our spiritual lives, we do well to evaluate icebergs and tree roots. They show us the importance of those things hidden beneath the surface. The height and grandeur of the tallest tree is only a product of what is hidden underground. Just the fraction of ice protruding from the face of the water is enough to evoke respect from a sailor. We want the same thing for our spiritual lives. We want what is seen in public to be respected and to stir up awe and wonder. We want the beauty of what is publicly seen to be explained only by the strength of what goes on in private between God and us.
With this in consideration, we must first acknowledge some truths. Let’s focus on roots. They have much to offer in this illustration. As mentioned, roots are unseen. Unfortunately, it is easy for us to think the part of our Christian walk that matters most is what is seen on a constant basis—the public part, the time spent with people. We seem to always be with people: people at work, people in the dorms, people on campus, people in Bible studies and fellowship groups. We are even constantly “with” people through social media. But it’s not all about the time spent in public. This includes our presence in the social media world. With all the busyness this world has to offer—from social groups to social media—we rarely have any genuine downtime. Our prayer time, reflection time, and mediation time is so cram-packed into our schedule that we often even short-change that.
Did you know the roots of a tree may wither, suffocate, or die months or years before the damage is ever portrayed above ground? Everything may look perfectly fine on the outside, but the root of the creation has already withered. Unfortunately, this happens to too many of us on the spiritual level. When we stop faithfully nurturing the hidden areas of our lives with personal prayer time and meditating on God’s Word, our roots become weak and begin to die without it ever being evident on the outside until our spiritual death is imminent.
I am blessed to have been born and raised in the Church. Tragically enough, I have seen too many of those with whom I have grown up in the Church fall away and choose other courses of life. Being in the Church and looking good in public will never be enough. Being born and raised in the Church means nothing if we do not find ourselves rooted and grounded in God’s truth. Who we are in the public eye is definitely a manifestation of what lies beneath, but it is only a fraction of who we truly are at the heart level.
Luke 12:2 reads, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” These are the words of Jesus as He warned His disciples of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They looked great from the outside; following every rule and regulation down to a T, but they were also called whitewashed tombs that looked beautiful from the outside but held nothing but dead men’s bones inside (Matthew 23:27). Who are you underneath it all? What is in your hidden parts? You may not be on your way toward spiritual death, but we all have room for improvement. God desires and—in my opinion—deserves we have truthfulness and integrity in the inward parts of our lives (Psalm 51:6).
When the final breaths are taken, the only opinion that will hold any weight is God’s opinion of each of us. It will not be all the people with whom we spent our time. It will not be the public opinion of who we are, but God’s alone. Moreover, in reality, He already knows the inward parts before we stand there on that day. I do not say all this to scare you. Like I said, we all have room for improvement and all need to be reminded of this truth. It was God who told Samuel “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). I pray each of us takes some extra time out of this busy life to evaluate our hearts daily. As a professor at Urshan College once said, “Truth be told, most of our hearts are twice as ugly as our faces.” It is always the hidden things in life that must be evaluated and maintained as a first priority. Let God do the searching. Include these verses in your prayer time and sincerely ask God to evaluate your life.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24).
Sarah is the Hyphen contributor for InsideOut. She hails from South Carolina and recently graduated from Urshan College in Florissant, Missouri. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.