Devotional - Health topics

The Tree Line

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. Prov. 18:12, NIV.

I’ve discovered in my years of exercising that a battle rages within my body—a contest between strength and flexibility, two goals that almost seem opposed to each other. I want to be strong, so I usually concentrate on strengthening activities (lifting weights, jogging, push-ups, etc.), which leave my muscles tight and rigid. But I know that I need to stay limber as well. If I neglect my stretching routine, I could easily pull a tight muscle at the wrong time.

As I hike the majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, I’m reminded of the importance of flexibility. As the elevation of the mountain increases, trees begin to disappear, until at about 10,000 feet they cease to grow at all. This transition point is called the tree line. Near the tree line you often see a few twisted and misshapen trees, permanently bent by the relentless winds. Above the tree line even the mighty oak cannot survive the punishing winds and poor soil. At high altitude the barren and rocky terrain seems almost devoid of life. Almost—but not quite.

Look down low, and you will see the soft and supple willow clinging to the rocks, flourishing to a height of no more than six inches. While the mighty winds will crack and break the beefy oak at the craggy peaks, the lowly willow bends, and the wind passes on through.

It is as if God has placed before us a great visual lesson to remind us that the lofty heights of human existence are no place for the proud and haughty. Here only the lowly and humble will survive. God certainly does not discourage ambition and aspiration. Joseph and Daniel both showed great wisdom in the high-pressure, high-profile arena of world politics. But we dare not walk those heights alone, or like the mighty oak, we will be swept off the mountain.

So in my training routine I aim to be as strong as an oak but as supple as a willow. In this way I may also learn to stand for principle against the raging winds of temptation, but yield to my heavenly Father’s will in modesty and humility.

Lord, may I stand for principle and be modest and humble as I scale the heights of possibility within Your will. Amen.

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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