We have a bush, a beautiful bush that used to grow in our yard. (It was a Japanese Barberry— love them!!) But that was exactly the problem.
It grew in the yard-– it had been planted in the middle of the grass. For two years, I mowed AROUND the bush, week in, week out. So earlier this winter, one day when I needed a stress reliever and had a free moment, I headed outside with my shovel to “rehome” this lovely bush to a different spot in our yard.
As I hacked around the base, I came across three side roots that had grown out, parallel to the ground above, and after disconnecting the thickest part of those roots from the feathery tendrils that spread further out, I thought I was done. But when I went to pop the plant out of the hole I’d dug, it wouldn’t budge. I soon found out that the bush had a deep (and thick!) taproot that went straight down. After more hacking, pulling, bending, pleading, and even more fervent hacking, the bush gave way.
I found a more suitable place for the plant, but not without first grappling with its stubborn tenacity. Its deep root had made it strong. Though it only stood perhaps 3 feet tall, no change of the winds or flooding or drought was going to kill this plant.
The root had intentionally gone deep into the soil, which produced vigorous strength and helped the plant to cling to life through difficult seasons.
The Apostle Paul said this about roots:
“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.”
And JRR Tolkien wrote this:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
Many times have I heard the second line of that verse, but the fourth blew me away when I read it today. It’s true.
Deep roots keep a plant hardy in times of dramatic weather change.
It’s the same for us.
So what are our roots growing “DEEP” into? The Apostle Paul charged the Colossians: “LET your roots grow down deep.” The ESV says, “…walk in him, rooted and built up in him…”
The idea is that, as we go through life, we are to willfully grow into Christ.
- To let HIM be what we take our nourishment from.
- To GROW from the “sap” that He procures for us.
- To let HIS life and His WORD be what flows through us, rather than looking for sustenance from some other source.
It is easy for us as humans to grow the sideways roots, parallel to the ground. I think this happens when we draw life, joy, and contentment from people, from things, from events in our life, from accolades. These things can bring a temporary joy (and that, in and of itself, is not wrong). However, that temporary joy can mask the true need, which is roots that grow down deep into the ONLY thing that securely grounds us: CHRIST.
When we grow deep in Him, deep in His Word, deep in oneness with His heart, His teachings, and His sufferings, we are secure when we hit hard times.
His unchanging nature becomes our anchor in the storm.
Then, even the temporary, or horizontal, joy that we derive from other people, or from the pleasurable things God has put into our lives, have more sweetness, because we are rooted in Christ and able to enjoy them in their proper perspective, as sweeteners… as gifts from our Father… rather than as the source of joy or as the penultimate purpose for our lives.
God is so good. His Word is so good. I want to grow deep in Him, and want to love His Word more than I do. I want my roots to grow deep so that when storms come, I will be rooted in a secure foundation– the unshakable person of Jesus.
I offer these 5 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH: (and I’m asking them of myself, too):
- If someone else was objectively examining your life, where would they see the most growth over the last year or two? (Would they notice growth in godliness?)
- What do you get MOST EXCITED about in your life? (sports, home decor, wardrobe, recipes, homeschooling curriculum, organic food)
- On what are you spending your money? (our pocketbooks often point to the things we love most, and the ways that we are actually working to grow)
- When life hacks away at you, what “roots” do you try to gain security from? (Food? husband? nice house? financial stability? having a “good” family? control of others? your weight? the praise of others?)
- What things, when taken away from you, produce an ugly attitude in your demeanor, words, or heart? (Money, position, possessions, family members, food, music, sports, appearance?)
When we look at the things we are trying to derive joy, security, and value from, it shows us the direction of our roots. Are we drawing “sap” from Christ, or is our security in people, possessions, position, and other things?
Image courtesy of foto76/freedigitalphotos.net