CYPRESS KNEES

cypress knees - Corkscrew Swamp
The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. [Luke 8:13 (NLT)]

But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. [Matthew 13:21 (NLT)]

The summer storms caused a few of the palms trees by our ponds to fall over. The landscapers had to pull them back up and erect wooden supports around them to keep the trees upright. They’d been planted too shallow and, without a deep stable base, it didn’t take much water or wind for the palms to go down. I couldn’t help but compare them with the bald cypress trees found in the nearby swamps. While the fallen palms in our neighborhood are barely out of their teens, some of Corkscrew Swamp’s enormous bald cypress trees are over 500 years old. Our palms had trouble with a few summer storms but those cypress trees have survived centuries of hurricanes! Granted, like a lot of old folks, the years have taken their toll and they look a little worse for wear. Hurricane winds may have blown away branches and pruned off tree tops, but they remain proudly standing in the swamp.

Perhaps the biggest reason these trees (cousins of the Redwoods) have survived so well is their unusual root structure. They have an extensive system of horizontal roots and woody conical bulges called “knees” that grow up from those roots. No matter how deep the water in the swamp, cypress knees protrude out of it in a fascinating variety of shapes and sizes. While there are a variety of hypotheses about these quirky swamp sculptures, it is commonly accepted that their unique root system is what gives these trees the extra stability needed to grow over 120 feet tall while standing in several feet of water and still survive centuries of storms and hurricanes. Their knees serve another, totally unrelated purpose in the swamp, as well. They serve as “nurseries” by providing a surface for smaller plants to take root and reach toward the sky.

The point is simple – we need a strong root system if we are going to survive the storms of life. With a firm faith foundation, while life may leave us a bit battered and bruised, like the bald cypress, we can remain upright and survive both temptation and troubles. Instead of knobby wooden knees, we have the word of God, prayer, our church family, and the Holy Spirit to keep us strong. With a foundation like that, doubt is replaced by belief, deceit by truth, worry by hope, and fear by trust. Moreover, just as the cypress knees nurture the ferns of the swamp, our faith examples can help inspire the faith of new believers. Remember, if we don’t stand firm in our faith, we won’t stand at all.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. [Colossians 2:7 (NLT)]

Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots. [Proverbs 12:3 (NLT)]