What do you carry in your pocket?

I have a selection of stones which have the fruits of the spirit on them; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I also have one which says courage. When I have been going to do something that I expect to find difficult I have kept courage in my pocket. I also carry a small red dot, or counter, to remind me that I’m a Christian 7 days a week not just on Sunday.

Yesterday I heard the story of the Armada Tree in the churchyard of St Patrick’s Church in Cairncastle Northern Ireland. The tree was a Spanish chestnut which wouldn’t naturally be found in Ireland, and was thought to be around 450 – 500 years old.

At the time of the Armada a Spanish ship was wrecked just off shore at Cairncastle and the body of a young sailor was washed ashore. He was given a Christian burial and not long afterwards, on the spot where his body lay a tree started to grow.

Apparently, it wasn’t unusual for sailors at this time to carry seeds in their pockets to remind them of home and this sailor must have been carrying seeds from a Spanish Chestnut which are the same as we would call conkers.

Unfortunately, last weekend the tree fell down. It wasn’t blown down and looking at it there had been no obvious signs of disease, but it became obvious that its roots had died and no one had realised.

This story gives rise to two questions –

1. What seeds do you carry in your pocket? Do you carry seeds that will last after you have died, seeds that you will be remembered for? Are the seeds you carry seeds of kindness, hope, mercy, grace, faith and gentleness or do you carry seeds of resentment, bitterness, jealousy, regret, despair or anger.

I had three great aunts, Lilly, Ethel and Hilda, sisters of my grandmother. I remember Lilly and Ethel as being very gentle, quiet, kind Christian ladies. Their faith was important to them and they encouraged me to read Bible stories. Hilda was different. She was an angry, jealous lady who bought her way in to my affection with lots of presents and comics. She was competitive and would give me slightly more pocket money than the others. We had cakes at her house and biscuits with Lilly and Ethel. As a child I liked going to Hilda’s but I liked to spend time with Lilly and Ethel. They are the ones who carried seeds of kindness, faith, gentleness and grace. I remember Hilda as being a cantankerous, miserable lady with never a good word to say about anyone. That’s not how I would want to be remembered.

2. The second question is how are your roots? When difficulties in life come your way, which they have with Covid 19, is your faith strong enough to remain standing. Just as a tree needs deep roots to withstand the storms and droughts, so we need to be deeply rooted in faith. When storms come along we are tossed about and if our roots are not deep and strong we will begin to wonder what good is faith, why bother? Does God really care about us? Faith in Christ can sustain you through any trial, yet too often we haven’t grown those deep roots to secure us.

So, are your roots healthy? Are you rooted in Christ; in grace, mercy, hope and faith? When we have a well-watered, deep-rooted faith, we can sustain those wilderness times of life, when we struggle and things seem hard.

We need to stay close to God, to learn from Him and from our Christian leaders. We need to read the Bible and pray too. This is how we are watered and fed.

Jeremiah 17:7-8
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when the heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

As our roots grow deeper and we learn and grow in God’s Word, we will come to trust in God in all things. It takes time to grow strong roots. They grow from a deep knowledge of God’s faithfulness, learnt through scripture and through your own life experiences; the good and the bad, and as we see God working in the lives of those around us and within ourselves.

So, have a think, what do you carry in your pocket and how strong are your roots?

Jane