We Thrive with Jesus


Aspen trees in the snow; leaves had fallen a season ago

Aspen trees are possibly my favorite trees because of their picturesque trunks and delicate leaves. In most of Northern America we call them quaking aspen (or trembling aspen) because the leaves quake or tremble, even at the slightest breeze.

Did you know that an aspen grove grows from a single tree? Aspens occasionally start as seedlings, but young aspens more typically grow from underground roots, and, as the roots travel underground, more and more sprouts shoot up. (See clonal colonization.) So, the snow-nestled trees in the pictures in this post are one single organism. You might call them one single tree.


The larger tree you see in the foreground is the mother tree. All the other trees in the grove (or clone) sprouted from the roots of the mother tree. So, the entire grove grew and thrived as it remained connected to the root system of a single, life-giving tree.


Jesus said…

I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5


Same aspen trees in the snow, side view



In John 15:1-17, Jesus described people who remain connected to Him, the true vine. He is the mother tree of the grove and we thrive when we remain rooted in Him. There are two benefits that happen through us when we remain rooted in Jesus – benefits for others, not really for ourselves.


Benefit 1: We flourish with forever fruit (John 15:1-4)

We may not always feel like it, but we’re in this world to make a difference in other people. God prunes us for that very purpose. He wants us to bear fruit – to offer sweet nourishment to the lives we touch. (To offer less sweet yet still healthful avocados and tomatoes, too!)

The reason we grow is to produce fruit, like love, obedience, and representing the gospel of Christ well. Jesus chose us to get up from our cozy loungers and to bear fruit that will last – forever fruit (John 15:16). We grow forever fruit for others to enjoy.

But we can't grow the fruit without Jesus.


Benefit 2: We proceed with powerful prayers (John 15:5-7)

When we remain rooted in Jesus, our prayers remain powerful. Jesus said, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7b). If you’re a prayer warrior, make sure you’re rooted in Jesus. Even if you’re not a prayer warrior, you can have effective prayers when you’re rooted in Jesus.

If we’re truly one with Jesus, we rely on Him for instruction, direction, and the many things we need to step through life. This also means we pray in accord with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15), which includes both His moral wishes and His purposes. Do we share the same will as God? Naturally, no. Rooted in Jesus, yes – more and more as we grow.



Same aspen trees in the snow, showing young shoots sprouting up



So, what does it take to remain rooted in Jesus? How can we continuously thrive in the Aspen grove we call God’s family, and reap the associated benefits?

To be honest, we can’t do it on our own. Centering our lives on Jesus requires partnership with the Holy Spirit, who came to help us remain rooted in Jesus when He left this earth (John 14:25-26). I won’t write much about how John 15 instructs us to remain in Jesus because the Scripture is very clear. Take time to reflect on these three ways to remain rooted in Jesus.

1. Recognize God's discipline and make corrections.


...every branch that does bear fruit he prunes
so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:2b


2. Glorify God and identify with Him. We do not serve ourselves.

This is to my Father's glory,
that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:8


3. Love with sacrificial love.

My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this:
to lay down one's life for one's friends.

John 15:12-13



The world's biggest living organism is not the blue whale. An aspen grove named Pando is 40 times heavier.


Are we united enough to have such a presence in this world?


As the wind blows, the aspen leaves quake with a soft whisper, but a whisper we surely hear.


Do we care enough to impact hearts with gentleness 
in the busy landscape of our society?


Together, we can be that one single tree, rooted in Jesus, producing abundant fruit, interceding for people, and loving them and each other for the glory of God.

    The world needs this.



How good and pleasant it is
when God's people live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1



Looking up into aspen tree tops reaching to the sky, full of leaves; text in picture reads Grow: We grow together and we grow beautiful in the roots of Jesus






If you want to know more about becoming a tree in God’s aspen grove, please email me at authordlv@att.net. Sprouting up from Jesus’ roots is simple and God will enjoy watching you grow tall and beautiful.

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THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Comments

  1. Gentleness while the world is in an uproar. I pray we will be gentle towards each other. I pray we will show the love of God to everyone. Great message.

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    1. A little gentleness can go a long way. I know you understand that. Take care, Melissa.

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  2. I love aspen trees! My Mother and Father had a cabin when we were young and on their acreage the wooded areas were filled with aspens. I love their white bark and markings. But I had no idea that they all grew from one tree. What beautiful imagery about Jesus and how he is the vine, the beginning tree, and we all thrive when we are rooted in him. Now, I will always look at aspen trees through this lens.

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    1. I didn't know about how aspen groves come to be until a few months ago on a snowshoe hike on which our tour guide told us about it. At that point I knew I had to write about it. But it seems much easier for aspens to grow as one that it does for us Christians, I think. I pray we become more united for the sake of benefiting others and to the glory of God.

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  3. Beautiful and timely message and love the photos! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Mary, for reading and commenting. We can be beautiful as Christians, too, when we remain rooted in Jesus.

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  4. I love how you tied our connection to Christ to an aspen tree. Our family has a mountain cabin on a property my parents bought when I was twelve. The shape of that grove of interconnected trees has shifted shape through doubt and through a worn that impacted the pine trees, killing them off, and thus providing more sunshine. The aspens spread further abroad. It's amazing how many lessons we can learn by connecting the aspen grove in our minds to the ways the body of Christ should and does function. Thank you for that incredible analogy, and for the link to Pando. There are truths in God's creation all around us.

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    1. I'm always amazed when I run across analogies like these in God's creation. Many times I get to witness it in person. Sometimes I can only read about it. God is a masterful designer of complex, beautiful, and fascinating organisms. Evidence of His design is everywhere and surely there are parallels we glean as lessons. The aspens carry an important message to us. We get our purpose and process from Jesus. We shouldn't live for ourselves, but we should do all for the glory of God.

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  5. Stephen, you have such a way with words! I also love aspen trees, and I love how you tied this all together. These lines especially struck me to the core: "We can’t do it on our own. Centering our lives on Jesus requires partnership with the Holy Spirit." Trees require sun and more to thrive. We require Jesus in the full partnership of the holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit— to thrive, as well. God bless you, friend, and Happy Easter!

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    1. Yes. There is so much we need from all 3 persons of the Holy Trinity. We thrive when we remain rooted in Jesus. He is the vine. God bless you too, Jessica, and Happy Easter to you and your family.

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  6. Love this, Stephen. I had heard this truth about aspens, but had forgotten.
    Thank you for the apt analogy!

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    1. This is such a simple truth, Ava, yet not very easy to put into practice. It's so easy to put our roots in other things and proceed for our own benefit. Blessings to you.

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  7. What a beautiful picture. Love this metaphor!

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    1. I'm glad, Nancy. May the aspens remind us from time to time that Jesus is the true vine.

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  8. I loved reading about the aspen, Stephen! I have been reading lots and lots right now about landscaping and gardening as this is our first spring in our first house — which means creating our own beauty in our yard where right now there are only weeds and some sad bushes. So this was enjoyable to read in the context of Scripture. Thank you for pointing me to Jesus!

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    1. Congrats on your house. Landscaping is probably my favorite type of home project, I mean, except for digging. You may have already discovered some trees or bushes that actually propagate in the same way as aspens, through underground roots. There are many biblical lessons in landscaping. I'm sure you know that. God bless you as you shape your yard and your life with Christ.

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  9. Stephen, new information for me. I never new that Aspen tree groves can grow from a single tree...and by the roots spreading. How interesting and such a great analogy to those of us in Christ. Enjoyed all your points, but really relate to glorify God and identify with Him, not serving ourselves. And this is an Amen-line, "Centering our lives on Jesus requires partnership with the Holy Spirit, who came to help us remain rooted in Jesus when He left this earth (John 14:25-26).

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    1. Hi Karen. Glorifying God instead of ourselves is such a key focus because the opposite is the natural way. We need the Holy Spirit to keep us pointed Godward. Let's remain rooted in Jesus so we can reap all of God's tending and pruning.

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  10. Amen great Post Brother, We definitely can not do this walk without Him especially now. Unity and outstretched hearts, hands and feet...the new season ahead. God Bless!!

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    1. Thank you, Stephen. We are in an interesting season in which we can truly be those united hearts, hands, and feet. God bless you, too.

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  11. The Aspen is also my favorite tree. At times, when we could travel, I would ask my husband to take me somewhere that the Aspens grow. They are often in mountainous area which I also love. But I did not know about how they grew. I really enjoyed how you relate it to us being part of the one vine of Christ. I will think of this every time I see an Aspen tree. Thanks

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    1. God is the Creator of beautiful and amazing things, with astounding propagation processes. I enjoy learning these word pictures as I explore His creation. Let us remain connected to Him.

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  12. I loved this post, Stephen! First of all, I am a fan of the outdoors and thoroughly enjoy the unique beauty of each flower and tree. I never knew about the aspen grove spreading via roots from one tree. Incredible. And what a beautiful analogy! I am learning more and more, that although the pruning hurts, if I can be glorify God more fully or be more useful for His kingdom plans, then it is for my ultimate good and His glory. I'm learning to love what God loves. I feel like a slow learner, but God hasn't given up on me yet!

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    1. I hope that we all can recognize God's pruning and respond favorably to it, as hard as it is to do both. I am a slow learner too, Melissa, and I'm thankful for God's mercy. Yes, learning to love what God loves is so key to maturing into a tall and beautiful aspen.

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