Growing Roots in Christ
I have kept a plant alive for over eight months.
That might not seem impressive, but my previous record for keeping a plant green and living topped out at barely over a month. Under my watch, plants seem to race towards an untimely demise. A patch of sunflowers never had a chance to turn their heads to the sun. A perky dill withered along with dreams of an herb garden. Even a succulent which hardly required any water at all could not withstand my care.
Despite my lack of success with keeping plants alive, nature has always fascinated me. I feel most connected to God in nature. I best understand His awesome power when I am surrounded by His creation in all of its glory.
It seems that I am not the only one to feel this way. Reading through the Bible, we can find countless metaphors pulled from nature.
"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 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." -Colossians 2:6-7
The middle of this passage - "let your roots grow down into Him" - caught my attention during a morning devotion time. It is such a beautiful thought, the idea of our roots deeply entwined in Christ. Just as a plant gathers the nutrients it needs from rich soil, we gather everything we need from our base in Christ.
How do we develop our roots in Christ?
Chances are we already know ways to develop our relationship with Christ. We know that we could and should do things like reading the Bible, studying God's word, praying every day, worshiping (alone and with others), and keeping a devotional journal.
I know what I should do to grow my roots, but my problem lies in consistency. In my relationship with Christ, as with my plants, I am wildly enthusiastic, but inconsistent.
When I get a new plant, at first I check it every day because I am excited to see what it will do. But, plants take time to grow. Even though I paid attention during biology class, I still want my plants to go from seed to mature plant overnight. After a few days of seeing only small changes, an inch of growth here or a tiny leaf one day, I get distracted. I do not give my plants the time they require to develop, and this is why I cannot keep them alive.
[pullquote width="300" float="right"]Even when you cannot see the change, rest assured in the knowledge that He is shaping you.[/pullquote]
After reading Colossians, I now understand that I do the same thing in my relationship with Christ. I get excited about a plan to study every morning or spend a certain amount of time praying. I know that I need to make my relationship with God the most important part of my life, and for a few days, I make it a point to spend time with Him every day. But, I forget to allow time for the roots to develop. When I do not see instant growth in my intimacy with Christ, I get distracted. My spiritual life suffers the same fate as my poor plants.
So what is the difference with my one surviving plant? How has it survived when so many others withered away?
The secret (which is no secret at all) is that I consistently check the plant every single day. Every single day I care for it, and water it when it needs water. Most days my plant looks the same, but it is still alive and growing even when I cannot see the change its undergoing.
Consistency makes all the difference.
My challenge for you (and for me) is to be consistent in growing your roots in Christ. It is a lifetime commitment. You are not going to blossom into a sunflower overnight. It will take regular attention to let your roots grow down into Christ. Even when you cannot see the change, rest assured in the knowledge that He is shaping you.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For (s)he shall be like at tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." -Jeremiah 17:7-8
The thing is, when you are rooted in faith, love, and an unshakeable foundation that is our God, nothing - and I mean nothing - will break you. No matter how ugly or painful life gets; or how often you fail and fall...you are still His. You are chosen...beloved. You have committed your ways to the King of Kings for forever. Your parents, church, friends, and family have prayed over you for years. Your life has been dedicated to a greater purpose. You are saved by grace and the blood of Jesus Christ. You are free from fear and sin. There is a light in your heart that cannot be extinguished or overpowered by darkness. These roots run deep - they will sustain you for years to come. Trust that and flourish where you are planted.