When I was a child, my parents took me to visit Sequoia National Park in Southern California. I remember standing at the base of “General Sherman”—one of the largest sequoias (redwoods) in the world—and craning my neck, straining to see the top of the tree. The majestic sequoia tree, which starts out as a tiny seed, can grow as tall as a skyscraper and weigh more than 6,000 tons.
Named in the late 1800s by admirers of the Civil War general, General Sherman is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old and, according to experts, still “growing like a teenager.” It’s an immense tree—some 35 feet wide at the base and 275 feet high. (Its root system is thought to extend at least as deep, if not deeper, into the ground as its tallest branch!) The tree’s first large branch above the base is 130 feet high, and its largest branch is nearly 7 feet in diameter.
Today, General Sherman contains 52,500 cubic feet of wood. Each year, it produces about 40 cubic feet of new growth—in other words, it produces enough wood annually to approximately equal the volume of a 50-foot-tall tree one foot in diameter!
Now that’s quite an example of growth!
In contrast to the giant sequoias, Japanese horticulturists have become experts in the art of raising dwarf, or “bonsai,” trees. These expert tree growers can take what otherwise could become a great oak or pine, and train them into an artistically shaped potted “dwarf tree” standing only 12, 18 or 24 inches high.
What keeps the dwarf tree from growing tall? One reason is because the horticulturist cuts the taproot. This forces the tree to survive on its surface roots only.
Christians are sometimes like the dwarf tree. Too many don’t have their taproot in place, spiritually speaking. Because of neglect or disobedience, they cut off or starve their spiritual taproot—God’s Holy Spirit!
How about you? Is your spiritual taproot intact? Or, like some, are you trying to survive on your surface roots, unable or unwilling to drink of the vitally important “deep things of God”? (1 Corinthians 2:10).
As editor in chief Gerald Flurry emphasized in the November/December 2001 Royal Vision, true Christians will not endure the last hour with a casual, superficial attitude. As Philadelphians, we must strive diligently to listen to and apply what God’s Spirit is saying to His Church (Revelation 3:13). This means our spiritual taproot must be in place!
Indeed, the only way we can continually grow toward perfect, holy and righteous character is to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit every day!
Growth Takes Time
Every begotten child of God, through human weakness, commits sin even after the deepest conversion (Romans 3:23). None has lived perfectly but Jesus Christ. Yet, God hasn’t left us without hope. He’s provided us access to “another Comforter” (John 14:16)—the Holy Spirit—which, when stirred up, will help us overcome the multitude of sins which so easily beset us (Hebrews 12:1).
Even so, we are often impatient or discouraged by our seemingly negligible spiritual growth. But spiritual growth is not always outwardly prominent, like the growth of the mighty sequoia.
Let’s look at one of Jesus’s parables that outlines the growth associated with the Kingdom of God, both now and in the future.
Christ asked: “Whereunto shall we liken the Kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it” (Mark 4:30-32).
What a comparison! Such is the growth associated with the Kingdom of God. (The Church is the spiritual embryo of the coming Kingdom of God, which is the family of God.) And what makes such dramatic spiritual growth possible?
Simply put, it is using the Spirit of God as your taproot!
God’s Spirit reveals the deep things of God: the plan of God, the potential for man, the very nature of God. We simply cannot understand the real meaning and purpose of life without His Spirit actively dwelling in us. 1 Corinthians 2:14 makes that abundantly clear: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
We need to think about this daily, and each time we reflect on the enormous potential growth in God’s creation. We should be able to compare our spiritual growth not to plants or trees with the taproot cut, but, as Christ said, to the grain of mustard seed, which is minutely small when it is sown, but grows and grows and grows!
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Mr. Flurry wrote about these verses: “We are blessed if we trust in God. Those who trust in God bear fruit. They are like a tree planted by the waters, with deep, strong roots which can survive drought and still bear fruit. … Is your life like this beautiful fruit-producing tree—‘in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit’? Are you always producing fruit in a world filled with spiritual drought?” (Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible).
Don’t cut your taproot and dwarf your spiritual growth. Why remain a spiritual bonsai tree, when you can “grow in grace, and … knowledge” (2 Peter 3:18) into a mighty spiritual sequoia?
We were born to become kings and priests—actual spirit-born members of the God Family!
The psalmist understood this principle when he wrote, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God” (Psalm 92:12-13).
Those who strive to grow in righteousness—who labor continuously to become spiritually mature (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1)—will dwell in God’s courts! But to get from here to there will require much spiritual growth.
It’s not easy to use the Holy Spirit to search out the deep things of God—but it can, and must, be done!
There will be instances in your life, as you seek to live like Christ, where you will be tempted to revert to old habits and patterns, to yield to your own self-will—and survive on your spiritual surface roots alone. The battle for your mind will be painful and intense. Whether or not you win the battle and remain in right standing with God will depend on how closely you are walking with Him and the depth of your conversion. In other words, you will need to keep your spiritual taproot in place by continually drinking in of the “rivers of living water,” never allowing your taproot to dry out or atrophy.
To ensure that your spiritual taproot remains intact, enabling you to flourish into someone God can use in His coming Kingdom, you must be conscientiously “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
King Solomon said, “[B]e thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (Proverbs 23:17). His father, King David, admonished, “Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times” (Psalm 106:3).
“Are you drinking from a ‘fountain of living waters’? That means God is always revealing more new truth—more new prophecy. It should be coming like a fountain of water. … God’s Holy Spirit should be flowing into our lives. We should be inspired by God’s power and using it to grow spiritually” (ibid).
Let us endeavor to go forth with renewed zeal—to strive all the harder in this last hour to use our spiritual taproot to “search the deep things of God” and “hear what the Spirit says unto the churches”!