Rooted and Grounded in Christ

Rooted and Grounded in Christ

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.”
Colossians 2:7

Planted

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.”
Psalm 1:3

Cut Down

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.”
Job 14:7-9

Where roots grow, hope remains. And we, my friends, have been rooted and grounded in Christ. Every external circumstance must bow to Him.

Trust

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.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

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.

Rest

We can either resist God’s process or rest in it. Resisting comes easy. Rest takes courage and faith to remain 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.”
Psalm 92:12-13

Gratitude

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.

If you are in your fruitful season, be grateful. If not, rejoice! Your time will come, if you remain rooted and grounded.

**********

Great Trials Matched by Great Joy – James 1 Perspective

Great Joy James 1

Choosing joy in the midst of great adversity and difficult circumstances never comes “naturally”. Joy is a gift readily available! Great trials can be matched by equally great joy according to James 1:2-4.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its works
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.”

Consider

That first word implies there is something to take into account. It has the sense of “commanding with official authority”.

There was a season of pressure I was facing when every morning before my feet hit the floor my declaration was, “Today, I choose joy!” The situation ahead was the exact opposite. My emotional survival demanding a choice of action; my choice was joy.

Joy

That choice made all the difference in my two-year trial.

Neither James, nor I, am making lite of trials. The intensity and duration is unpredictable and often severe. Trials are to be “faced“.

Years ago a fierce storm hit our farmyard with pounding rain and   hail accompanied by flashes of intense lightning. A small group of tame ducks were caught outside in the midst of it. I expected them to run for shelter or hide their heads beneath their wings. They stood together in a small cluster facing the wind and torrent with heads held high. The image spoke to me then and continues to speak now. They faced the storm.

Whenever

Trials do come…
unannounced – unwelcome…
usually in multiples…
fierce and overwhelming.

Great Trials

There is something we need to “know” in the midst of trials and tests. “James jogs our memory just a little. Trials have purpose!

In school tests were inevitable. A test demonstrates both what we know and what we don’t know. Trials show the Anchor and Substance of our faith is Christ alone!

Perseverance

My Greek Lexicon defines this word as “cheerful (hopeful) endurance, constancy…” It reads:

“In the New Testament the characteristic of a man who is
unswerved from his deliberate purpose and
his loyalty to faith and
piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”

The only way for me to find joy in the midst of my greatest trials and sufferings is to hold on to an eternal biblical perspective. Here is found that cheerful, even hopeful, endurance and constancy that gives strength and fortitude to rise above. My trial my last a lifetime, but it won’t follow me to heaven!

We will all get knocked down.
Get back up!
Knocked down again? Get back up!
We’ll take jabs to the jaw! Get back up!
We’ll take a few in the back. Get back up!
When we hit the pavement hard? Get back up!

Perseverance

This is perseverance – living with deliberate purpose and loyal to the faith, in the greatest trials and sufferings.

Mature and Complete

James says, “let perseverance finish its work.”

We always have choice. It is easier to give in than to get up and be knocked down again. Far easier!

I’ve talked before about finishing well; perseverance helps me to just that. If we “let” or allow the trials we face to finish what God is doing, the result will be maturity and completeness.

My grey hair doesn’t mean maturity. Age is a process I cannot stop. However, maturity is a strategy I can co-operate with. The Amplified Bible reads,

“But let endurance and steadfastness
and patience have full play and do a thorough work…”

One can trust a mature person. Their wisdom, strength, and tenacity help them to stay the course.

Mature CompleteThink about what being complete and perfectly sound would look like. When Peter healed the lame beggar, the word used is the same as this one in James. Legs and feet once nonresponsive now jumped, leaped and walked to places forbidden just moments before.

Weakness replaced by strength
dependency vanished in ability
chains of confinement broke into freedom!
Walking and leaping and praising God!
Over forty years of painful trial
melted forever
encompassed by great joy….

Great Joy

Trials are God’s instrument…

“that you may be mature, complete,
not lacking anything”!

When we know, as James and the early church knew, in the midst of intense persecution we too can face trials with great joy – wholly joyfully!

God is working! He is producing in us a tenacious faith bearing fruit of maturity and bringing us in to a realm of neither lack or deficiency.

That very thought is enough for me!