The Upper Room Devotion for Monday, August 7, 2023, was written by John Alter of Floida.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 NRSV
OUR LIFE'S HEARTWOOD
The day after a hurricane I ventured into our backyard to check the damage. I found one sizable limb that had snapped off where it had joined the trunk of a 50-foot-high tree. The limb masured 15 inches in diameter, and I was puzzled why such a big limb had fractured.
As I looked at the base of the limb, I saw that the inside, its "heartwood," had rotted away. It had been held to the trunk of the tree by only the weaker outer bark and cambium portions of the limb. When its core had decayed, the limb was weakened; only the frail outer layers of the limb provided support. In the storm, that hadn't been enough.
The condition of the tree reminded me how we derive our inner strength from our relationship with God. If the core of our union with God is decayed and unhealthy, then we become weak and will not have the strenth and resilience to handle the hard times of our lives. But when we have a healthy bond with God, we can remain strong in times of sturggle. Through worship, Bible study, and prayer we keep our spiritual hardwood healthy so that we can endure any storm.
For many personal trainers and fitness professionals, the first area they work to strengthen is our Core, the group of muscles of the abdominal and lower back region. Strengthen our Core can help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort we feel when engaging in normal activities. Yet, to strengthen our Core takes time, dedication, and perseverance to daily exercises. In like manner, to strengthen the "core of our union with God" requires consistent daily exercise of the spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, and study. Just like a tree, whose core is weakened, is susceptible to strong winds, so too are we when our spiritual cores are not strengthened. May we all make the commitment to strengthen our spiritual cores so that we are equipped to weather life's storms.
Strengthening God, help us to maintain a healthy connection with you, so that we can endure the challenges that come our way. Amen.