Everybody’s got them. Where are your roots? Roots seek out stability and nourishment, but they don’t always find it. So the question is: are yours growing in fertile ground or quick sand?
A BRILLIANT METAPHOR
The continual act of rooting is a biblical metaphor for trust. Whatever you trust in — wherever you look for identity, approval, safety, strength and nourishment — this becomes your soil. Your heart, your spirit roots down — driven by hope and thirsty for life. It’s instinctual. And so you live and grow, producing fruit powered by a source of your choosing.
You do this without much thought, really.
Until a drought or earthquake comes along.
WHERE ARE YOUR ROOTS? — CHOOSE YOUR SOURCE WISELY
It’s a wise soul who examines her roots, periodically noting their direction and checking soil quality.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. She will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It will not be anxious in the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17: 7-8 (NIV & NKJV)
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah wrote these words. It’s clear where fertile ground is to be found — in God Himself. Abiding in Him. Drinking from the stream of His goodness.
It’s a mysterious, yet oh-so-tangible union.
I have sometimes responded flippantly to this call for reflection: “Of course I’m rooting into Christ. I believe in Him. I’ve entrusted my life into His care. Let’s move on.” Without mindful examination however, reality falls by the wayside.
The ground your rooting into might not be as holy (or as stable) as you think. Time for a soil sample.
HEAT, DROUGHT AND OTHER PERILS
Trials are distressing but they serve an essential purpose. Your true spiritual condition is revealed through seasons of scarcity and the heat of adversity.
Take a moment now and close your eyes (but finish reading these bullet points first). ? Connect with your breath. Then:
- Ask Holy Spirit to reveal places where your heart is trusting in something other than God for provision, stability and contentment.
Certainly, there are many healthy sources that offer partial fulfillment of these needs. But we’re talking ultimate fulfillment here. When all scaffolding is stripped away, on whose soil do you find yourself standing? Or falling?
- Spend five minutes in quiet contemplation.
- Open your eyes.
HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH
Did anything bubble to the surface of your heart? Any nudges from Holy Spirit?
Ah, the grace and mercy of God. No matter where you’ve fallen, know this:
If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
He is willing and able to provide all the strength you require to walk in victory from here on. (Or, to grow in victory — sticking with our metaphor).
IN GOOD COMPANY
It’s important to examine your weaknesses. Knowing yourself better can help avoid future missteps.
Which impurities surfaced during your spiritual “soil analysis”? What are you rooting into instead of God?
Whatever these idols may be, consider yourself in good company. We humans bear similar weaknesses. Humility, compassion and encouragement grow well in a climate of mutual confession. And I know this, how? From personal experience, my friends. These weaknesses are mine as well.
WHERE ARE YOUR ROOTS? — AVOIDING THE POLLUTANTS
What tempts you to trade your hope and confidence in the Lord for that of lesser gods? In the verse just prior to the one I quoted (and in contrast with it) God says:
Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. – Jeremiah 17:5-6
Here’s a list of common contenders. Perhaps you find yourself trusting in (or fearing the loss of):
- the approval of others (“the praise of man”)
- a growing bank account
- a noteworthy education
- a successful career
- an attractive appearance
- a noble reputation
- good health
- supportive family and friends
- talent and ability
These are all good things, but in place of God they are imposters. Presenting as fertile ground, they erode suddenly and without warning. Your roots are left exposed and vulnerable. This sod is a sickly substitute for the holy ground God offers in Himself.
WHERE ARE YOUR ROOTS? — ABIDING IN CHRIST
Now that you know what to watch for, be on guard against faulty foundations. When distractions appear on the horizon, sink your roots deep into the Father’s soil. Draw close to His stream of Living Water.
The good news is that He does the work! In another biblical analogy, Jesus describes Himself as a grapevine. Believers are the branches. God the Father is the gardener. Here too, rooting is required. Life and strength flow from Vine to branches — just as from soil to root.
And all you need to do is abide. Remain. Dwell. Stay put.
How do you do that?
Trust in God plants your roots in His holy ground. Continued faith in Him keeps you there. The work and the glory is His!
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your life in Him, ROOTED and built up in Him, strengthened [established] in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:6
How did you receive Christ Jesus as your Savior?
Trust in God. You surrendered your life to Him once. By faith He keeps you, grounded and rooted in Himself.
LOVE — FROM THE ROOT TO THE FRUIT
God is Love. Remain rooted in His soil and He will bring forth the fruit. That fruit, dear friend, is love.
I pray that out of God’s glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being ROOTED and GROUNDED 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-20
ROOT DOWN AND RISE UP, IN HIM
Therefore, be that tree that sends out its roots by the river. Guzzle God’s Living Water. He is your firm foundation — the nourishing earth your roots crave. When the heat of suffering approaches, dig deeper and you will grow stronger. When the rain doesn’t come He will quench your thirst. God promises to provide all that you need. All!
Trust and grow. From His strength your branches will rise up, healthy and full of fruit in season.
I welcome your comments and questions, always. It’s through this encouragement, through sharing weaknesses and victories, that we grow. It’s my prayer that you’ll find the fullness of your identity, security, strength and provision in the holy ground of Jesus Christ. Blessings to you, Ali ?