In our front yard, between the rosebush and the daylilies, grows a Redbud tree. For one week in the spring, our Redbud tree flowers gloriously, bursting into beautiful purple blooms. The rest of the year, however, it is a rather ho-hum kind of tree. You wouldn’t know this though by the way it procreates. It produces so many seed pods, they practically look like leaves falling off of the tree!
Thus, we find baby Redbud trees growing everywhere: in the yard, in the flower beds, and even in our gravel driveway. A couple of Saturdays ago, I decided it was time to do a little yard work and started cleaning up my front flower beds. My battle with the baby Redbuds began. Their roots reached not just down into the ground but also horizontally, making it almost impossible for them to be uprooted. To pull them out required a shovel and good old muscle power. I worked out a system: pulling, digging, pulling, digging, and pulling some more! It was a really great workout routine. The back of my legs were sore for a few days afterwards!
These little Redbud saplings have an important concept all figured out: to grow and thrive, it is essential to establish a root system. A secure root system defines the life of a tree.
We often hear people talk about being ready to “put down roots.” Usually this means they’re tired of moving and are ready settle down, to plug into their new home and community. There is a grounding quality to being “rooted.” It makes us feel safe, stable, and established.
Perhaps this is why, throughout Scripture, there are many references to being rooted. Let’s take a look at three of them together:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:3
It’s all about location, location, location! Want to thrive? Find a good location! Want to grow strong, healthy, and yield fruit in season? Plant yourself next to life-giving water. Trees flourish when they have access to a constant water supply.
Jesus says that through Him, we have access to living water and will never thirst. The water He gives will become in us like a spring of water, welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14-15) If we are rooted in Christ, and His Spirit lives within us, then we are already overflowing with the very water we need to grow!
Ephesians 3: 17 b – 18 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together, with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Paul’s prayer is that God’s people would be rooted and established in love. It’s possible to be rooted in anger, grief, envy, or self-righteousness. Or maybe like bitterness, they become rooted in us if we allow them to take up residence. But Paul prays that God’s people would be rooted in love. Just imagine how well-nourished and established we could become, if we were growing roots in soil of love. It makes me think of a far-reaching forest. Silently, underneath the forest floor, a vast root system is growing together, a web of roots establishing the forest. That is what the church is like, when in love, we have the power to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
In Colossians, Paul again writes of being rooted. This time, he says that we should be rooted and built up in Jesus himself. In this way, our faith is established.
Establish: set up on a firm or permanent basis
One of my favorite spring and summer activities is gardening. Last winter, I received an heirloom seed company magazine in the mail and ordered seeds in the middle of winter. I started growing my seeds inside, long before the first frost. I watered them, placed them in the sun, and watched them grow. They grew slowly at first and then picked up speed. By April, they were outgrowing their tiny containers.
What if I had not transplanted them into the garden when it was time? They would have been unable to grow further, because they could not have established a robust and healthy root system in the place they were designed to flourish. According to Colossians 2, we are to be rooted in Christ, allowing us to be built up and our faith to be established. Then we too will flourish!
Pause: Spend a few minutes outside or near a window. Allow your body and mind to calm as you enjoy nature. Take a few deep breaths.
Renew: Take time to think about seasons in your life and in your faith where you have felt deeply rooted. What was it like to feel established and plugged-in? If you have not experienced that, what do you think has kept you from being able to put down roots?
Next: Pray or journal this week about ways that you can be rooted in love in your family, community, or church body.
Let’s grow some gnarly roots that will not be easily uprooted – with streams of living water, in love, and established in Christ.
Pause, Renew, Next!