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Together we stand strong

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Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I read this week about a man who had a profound insight while driving from Louisville, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee. It is a stretch of road that I know very well.

It was February. A major ice storm had struck the night before and for many miles, both sides of I-65 were strewn with broken and damaged trees.

As he drove on, the man observed a pattern. Many of the trees were leaning, but not broken. What he noticed is that all of these “leaning but not broken” trees were situated in a grove. When a tree started to weaken and lean, the surrounding trees caught it and held it up.

He also noticed that all the trees that had snapped or were lying on the ground uprooted had one thing in common. They were either at the outside edge of the grove or they had been standing alone.

He was sharing this insight with another friend, a biologist, who told him that if he could only have seen beneath the surface, he would know that the roots were also connected … that the trees were bracing each other below as well as above ground. When the rains came down and turned to ice and the winds blew against the heavy limbs, the intertwined trees were able to stand.

I am an independent, self-reliant sort of person. Perhaps some of you are as well. Yet, I am reminded with some frequency that going it alone is high-risk behavior … and that interdependence, not independence, is how we will weather the ice storms of life. When we are at our best, the church is like that grove of trees — we lean on one another, our roots intertwined, together standing strong through the storms of life.


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