Every family has one—the primary trunk of the family tree—the person who creates and maintains communication and connection between the whole family. In many families, it’s the mama. We didn’t understand this dynamic until my mother-in-law died of cancer in 2007, when she was fifty-nine years old. Far too young and way before our family was ready to lose her.
Besides the normal grief we felt as a family, we also lost our central communication hub. I no longer could make a one-stop call to find out how my father-in-law, bro- and sis-in-law, and my own daughters were doing. “Nana” always had the up-to-date info from everyone in the family, so when we lost her, we lost touch with each other.
Losing Jacob’s Trunk
As I’ve pondered the demise of Jacob’s family, I’ve decided they experienced a similar sort of loss. After Jacob died, Joseph was the central communication hub connecting them to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Though Jacob’s other sons had seen God’s mighty hand at work, Joseph was the only one that Scripture records having any personal encounter with El Shaddai. But when that generation passed away…
“Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them. Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.” Exodus 1:6-8
So now we’ve got a whole bunch of Jacob’s descendants living in Egypt who have never had any personal experience with this God of their forefathers. They know the stories passed down, but those stories are like the nursery rhymes we read to our kids at bedtime. They’re stories.
They’ve got no trunk.
How to Grow a “God Trunk”
Have you ever witnessed the full process of a sapling grow into a towering tree—with a strong trunk? Unless you’ve lived in the same place for decades, your answer is likely “no” because trees (and their trunks) grow s-l-o-w-l-y.
It’s the same with a person’s God trunk – a relationship with God that sustains you and nourishes others. It takes years to establish and a lifetime to nurture.
Sometimes, forces of nature or human interference causes the trunk to become misshapen or marred; however, its refashioning may make it especially suited for a unique purpose.
So it is with our God trunks. In order to grow and shape us into the perfect image for His plan and purpose, God often allows adversity to batter the sapling as it grows.
“So [the Egyptians] put slave masters over [the Israelites] to oppress them with forced labor…But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread…They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.” Exodus 1:11-14
It was under these terrible conditions that the Israelites became a nation of thousands—hundreds of thousands—over a period of four hundred years.
When a Trunk Spreads Life
There’s no short-cut to growing a tree. It begins with a seed. The seed must grow to a plant, the plant to a sapling, and the sapling to a tree.
My parents had HUGE maple trees in their yard, and each year little “helicopter” pods twirled to the ground in late summer. Healthy trees reproduce.
Not every seed becomes a towering tree with a strong trunk. Neither does every opportunity to share Jesus produce a new believer. But God told Abraham that his trunk would spread blessing to EVERY nation. (That’s a lot of helicopter pods twirling to the ground!)
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3
After four hundred years of adversity, God would choose another strong “trunk”—as He’d done with Abraham—to communicate with His people. We’ll see the next seed of Abraham—a baby—who grows through adversity into a strong and steady trunk-of-a-man, rooted in God and nourishing others with godly passion and power.
Next week, we’ll meet Moses.
- Who’s the “trunk” in your family tree? The hub of emotional and spiritual communication?
- It takes decades to grow a “God trunk”: fellowship with God that sustains you and nourishes others.
- Next week’s podcast: a seed of Abraham who grows into a strong trunk-of-a-man, rooted in God.
- Who is the “God trunk” in your family?