Are you rooted and grounded? Planting takes only moments, but roots develop and spread over a lifetime. Fruit appears last of all. By allowing God time to send our roots outward, we will flourish wherever He plants us. But lately, I’ve been a little frustrated with my personal growth and progress — feeling stagnant and unproductive.
As a long-time gardener, I have gained experience in rooting and planting annuals, perennials, and trees. Though I experimented with newer species, my gardens often contained tried-and-true varieties, originally passed from my mother’s or grandmother’s gardens. In our northern climates, the extreme heat of summer and cold of winter offers a more limited palette of vegetation than in other parts of the world. But no matter where you live, a healthy root system is the key to any plant’s longevity and growth.
What holds true in the natural holds true to our spiritual condition as well.
“Having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.”
Each plant thrives in a specific location and environment. And so do we. While shade loving plants wilt in dry sunny locations, the reverse is also true. But even when planted in the perfect location, a gardener focuses on root development. Trees need to be staked for the first few years until their roots spread far enough to support them against even the cruelest winds. Weekly watering routines become essential, as well.
Where has God planted or perhaps transplanted you? Do you feel fragile? Are you fearful that the winds of adversity may topple you?
As we give God time to expand our spiritual roots, we gain greater stability in our lives. Shuffling from one thing to another hinders spiritual progress. We may look healthy on the surface, but it is the hidden strength of being rooted and grounded that helps us to withstand the storms of life.
God says of the righteous,
“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Without success, I have attempted to “trick” certain plants to grow where they weren’t designed to flourish. But when I followed instructions and planted the seedling in their preferred location, the resulting growth was stunningly obvious.
We have all felt my tender roots pulled up from soft fertile soils, only to be pushed into one restriction or another — without room or stability. We have felt the stretch and strain of being “planted” in unfavorable and unfamiliar territory, including hard and rocky circumstances. I, and perhaps you, have resisted God’s choices, believing we could never grow in such adverse conditions. Yet, God knows where our roots of faith and trust in Him would grow the best.
Job felt it, too.
“For there is hope for a tree. When it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.”
Where roots grow, hope remains. And we, my friends, have been rooted and grounded in Christ. Every external circumstance must bow to Him.
Jeremiah encourages us to trust “in the LORD,” because our trust “is the LORD.”
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
God birthed within us the desire to reflect such vitality, growth, and maturity. But, it takes time. Spring, summer, fall, and winter repeated year after year. Some seasons kind. Other seasons harsh.
Yet, as we trust in the Lord, and our trust is the Lord, seasons pass as strength builds and and we become rooted and grounded.
A tree never strives to grow. It rests while growth naturally occurs. God has formed us the same way. The more we strive, the more we pull apart our fragile roots. But as we rest in His goodness and sovereignty, our roots push ever deeper and wider.
May God give us the courage to stay, wait, and rest. Unlike a tree, we can pull ourselves out and force ourselves into something we believe more conducive and comfortable. Shade sounds good. Shelter invites.
“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”
As I look back over the seasons of my life, I feel a sense of equal gratitude for both the easy and trying seasons. The seasons of apparent spiritual drought, dis-ease, pruning, and struggle have caused a deeper maturing as sin has been exposed and confessed, ungodly attitudes have been unearthed and removed, patience has been tried and pressed, and Christlikeness has been refined.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-8
God directs us to places we don’t understand and to circumstances we might resist. When people damage us, abuse us, use us, wound us, rob us, or mistreat us, may we send our roots of trust in God deeper, knowing somehow, some way He will use it all for our good. Richer fruit will come from our lives.
Just like a tree goes through a season of dormancy before sending out new blossoms and shoots, so must we. The season of fruitfulness will come. Each season prepares us to produce greater and better fruit.