Articles Mighty Oak Ministries
The Metaphor of Roots
by Pat J. Sikora

The Mighty Oak’s Roots—Shallow, Deep, and Sick

Roots support and anchor the oak tree. They also absorb water and minerals, store energy, and produce chemicals that help to regulate growth. They grow where the nutrients they need—oxygen, water, and minerals—are most abundant.

The roots of the oak are both shallow and deep. The surface roots are fragile. They are very sensitive to any sudden change of grade or pressure. In healthy oaks, the root zone often extends outward two to three times the radius of the drip line (the periphery of the foliage). Landscapers know that these surface roots can be weakened by changes in the landscape grade, soil compaction or removal of surface feeder roots. They can’t just grade away and remove the soil under an oak, or it will kill the tree. We often cover the root area of an oak with river rock if there is to be any pressure applied, as in a garden or landscape.

The shallow roots of the oak remind us of the Word of God, read daily and applied liberally to life. A broad knowledge of Scripture is essential for healthy growth as a Christian. When we cover our shallow roots with the Rock, we can handle the pressures of daily life without being crushed.

But the oak also has taproots than run deep into the earth and provide the anchor and strength for the tree. In some oaks, like the English Oak, the roots can go as deep below the ground as the tree grows above the ground. If these deep roots are weak, the entire tree is at risk.

When an oak has a good root system, the winds of adversity actually strengthen rather than topple it. In times of drought, the roots sink even deeper to find the water needed to nourish the tree. If these roots grow to the surface, the tree will die, but if they sink deep into what the world calls dirt, the tree can withstand anything. This process is hidden from the rest of the world. If the roots are strong, no one notices. If, however, they fail to take in the nourishment needed or grow deeply enough, the lack become obvious. This growth must take place in the good seasons, before the storms hit.

The deep roots of the oak remind us of the Word of God, studied deeply and applied to specific needs or issues. We need to sink deep into God’s Word in order to become strong enough to bear the winds of adversity. We need to make sure that our roots are as substantial as our ministry. We need more than the quick sprinkling of the Sunday sermon. To become strong, we need to soak deeply in God’s Word every day. We also need to bore deeper into the water of the Holy Spirit, especially in times of drought. The Word of God, fed by the water of the Spirit, anchors, strengthens, and feeds the Christian.