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Life twists and turns and throws loops into those places we think will be flat and smooth. Because that’s what life does. Sometimes it just catches us off guard.
And at the end of the day, I guess that’s why I don’t like to be surprised. I can’t stand to get caught off guard. It makes me feel exposed and afraid. But slowly, I’m learning it’s not all bad to be surprised.
That vulnerable place reminds us we have needs beyond what we can manage. Feeling a little exposed and afraid reminds us we need God. Desperately. Completely.
And in that gap between what we think we can manage on our own—and what we can’t—is right where faith has the opportunity to grow deep roots. Roots that dig down into the hope and joy and peace only God can offer.
My faith doesn’t just need to grow big … it needs to grow deep. Yes, I need deep faith roots, like the believer in Jeremiah 17:7–8, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
And how do we get deep roots?
We grow deep spiritual roots the same way a tree grows deep physical roots. The roots of a tree will never go through the pain and effort of digging deeper until there isn’t enough water from the surface to satisfy it. There’s water to be found in the deeper places. But the gift of going through the hardship to get to the deeper water is that deeper roots can help the tree withstand thrashing winds from bigger storms when they come.
And they will come. A tree with shallow roots is in great danger of being knocked down and taken out.
We are much the same. Shallow seeking will produce shallow believing and leave us vulnerable to falling. But deep seeking will produce deep believing and equip us to stand firm, no matter what comes against us.
Deep roots keep us secure in God’s love when fear comes.
Deep roots anchor us with the truth that God is in control when surprises blow like strong, unruly winds.
Deep roots hold us steady in God’s peace during the storm that didn’t show up on the radar.
Deep roots find nourishment in God’s grace when the surface gets awfully dry.
Deep roots allow for growth of faith in God not previously possible.
I’m learning to not be so afraid of what might be around the next corner. Even if it does catch me off guard. I close my eyes and whisper to the Lord … deeper still.—Lysa TerKeurst1
In the seasons of life, sometimes we bloom and blossom, and sometimes our branches are bare and our roots are forced to go deep to survive the winter. Spring always follows winter, though. If you’re in the season of lack, maybe God is using this to show you His goodness. Maybe He wants to show you His faithfulness and the beauty of depending on Him. He’s your good shepherd (and mine), and He will take care of us.—Marie Alvero
Growing up on a farm in upstate New York, I spent a good deal of time climbing trees and wandering among them, admiring God’s artistry. In the pasture across the road from our home, there was one especially majestic tree. One day my father explained that its symmetry was a mirror image of its underground root system. If there had been an impediment to the development of the roots, it would have been reflected in the part of the tree that was visible above the ground. The tree was beautiful because it had a well-functioning root system.
I have often thought about how trees parallel our lives. We go through cycles much like the seasons—bright new beginnings, like springtime’s pale green buds; flourishing times, like summer’s lush and gorgeous trees; resplendent times, like autumn trees flamboyant with color; and bleak times, like the stark beauty of branches shrouded by winter’s snow, which will eventually give way to spring and new life again.
We too need an invisible system of roots in the spiritual realm. Our connection with God is what feeds us and helps us to bear fruit in our lives. He nurtures us while we’re green and growing and fruitful, helps us yield to the loss of our leaves in the fall, and keeps us alive within through seemingly endless winters, so we’ll bring forth the miracle of new buds in the spring. When our spirits are firmly rooted in God and we are nourished by His Word, it shows in the branches of our lives.—Joyce Suttin
Consider the trees. I have made many different kinds of trees, but each tree is useful. Each tree has a specific purpose. Some trees are used for shade. Some trees are used for protection from the wind. Kids use some trees to build forts in, or to climb on or swing from. Trees bear many different kinds of fruit. Although they are so different and are created for different purposes, each tree is very important to Me.
As a tree grows and its roots grow deeper and the branches spread out and the tree grows taller, it becomes stronger. Although it takes time, it is becoming a strong tree that will be useful for Me. You can’t see it grow, but it is growing. It is accomplishing My purpose in soaking up the water and absorbing the sun.
You are like trees—each designed for a specific purpose in My kingdom, but each different, with different gifts and different talents. The kingdom cannot be made up of just apple trees or orange trees or pine trees or oak trees. There are many trees needed in My kingdom, for there are many ministries, so I have made you all different.
Sometimes you wonder, “Why have You made me thus?” I have made you with specific strengths and weaknesses—strengths to be used for My glory; weaknesses to bring you closer to Me. But do know that I have made you just the way you are, and the way I want you to be.
You’re a special tree in My kingdom, designed for My purpose. Every tree is important in My kingdom and is designed for a specific purpose. So be a happy tree for Me!—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.—Jeremiah 17:7–8 NLT
Published on Anchor July 2019. Read by Jason Lawrence.
Music by John Listen.