Recently, I have spent some time reflecting on 2018 and anticipating 2019. I’ve looked back at the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2018 and am eagerly looking forward to a blessed 2019.
But as I’ve reflected on 2018, I realized how most of the situations in my life called me to “persevere” which was my theme word for 2018. I learned to understand Galatians 6:9 in a whole new way. 2018 was full of emotions, physical battles, spiritual battles, and tremendous victories.
As I prayed about what God was calling me to in 2019, a variety of “words” or “themes” kept coming to mind. But they all centralized on being “rooted” in Christ. Colossians 2:6-7 kept echoing in my head. The NIV puts it this way: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” The NASB puts it this way: “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
Regardless of the translation, here’s the way I’ve understood this passage recently: You have already received Christ and are already living for Him. So continue in that way of living. You are firmly rooted in Him and are now being built in Him. Continue to grow your roots deeper so you can extend your branches where He directs you. Stay established and don’t waver in your faith, just as you have been taught and continue to learn, but also remember to overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done in you, for you, and through you.
Ok, so maybe you don’t interpret that passage the same way I do and I don’t expect you to. But I think we can all agree that to be able to withstand life’s storms, we have to have deep roots. We go through seasons of life where our branches may extend or even break, the flowers will bloom, and the leaves will change color. In all of those seasons, we may “look” different to other people and even to ourselves. Spectators may see beautiful flowers, damaged branches, or amazing colors. They may experience relief that the shade our leaf-filled branches can provide or they may have to help rake up those leaves when they fall.
But one thing most people forget about is the roots. Roots continue to grow regardless of the appearance of the tree. You can prune a tree by cutting some of the branches and it won’t die. It may look awkward for a while, but it will fill out eventually. But if you want to kill the tree, you have to kill the roots. If you want to a tree to flourish, you don’t sprinkle water on the canopy. You saturate the roots with nutrient dense water.
We recently had some roots exposed on many of the trees in our yard and some of the trees were beginning to show signs of death. We had to get a bunch of dirt to cover them up the exposed roots. It took the majority of a day, but in the days, weeks, and months since our hard work, we have already seen the fruits of our labor. Our trees appear to be healthier and have withstood the variety of storms that have hit them during these past months.
Our lives are like that too. The trials and pains of this world can erode away the dirt, the substance covering our spiritual roots, and we can feel exposed, raw, and show signs of dying. But when we are intentional and cover our roots, we can experience times of growth. We can be assured that our roots are growing deeper in Christ and that we will be able to withstand the storms that come our way.
It’s easy to say (or write) that I wanted to be “rooted” in Christ this year,
BUT WHAT THAT REALLY MEAN?
I want to dig deeper into His Word. I want to KNOW His promises for me and live like I believe them. I want to have confidence in my prayer life, knowing that He hears me and answers me. I want to make my relationship with Him my TOP priority.
So HOW WILL I DO THIS?
Well, I’m not exactly sure, but I’m starting 2019 with a few different strategies.
First, I’m being more specific in my prayer time. I’ve been keeping a prayer journal for years, but now my requests are much more detailed. I’ve also set alarms on my phone to remind me to pray during the day.
Second, I’m more intentional with my daily Bible reading. I’m keeping a journal of what I’ve read each day and how I can apply each passage in my life today. I’m learning SO MUCH MORE by doing this and am excited to share it with others. (I’m even considering a weekly blog post about what God has taught me through His Word.)
Third, I have set a goal to read through the Bible as a story, not a textbook. While I will continue to read it chapter by chapter in the morning (with an accountability partner), I am simultaneously going to read through it from beginning to end (in chronological order) so I can more fully understand the BIG STORY and the BIG PICTURE of God’s redeeming love.
I am also listening to some amazing podcasts each day to help me center my thoughts on God and His grace while I’m exercising, cleaning, prepping food, or just sitting down to eat lunch. I’m sharing devotionals with friends. I’m listening to advice from more mature Christians. I’m taking a step back and identifying my strengths and weaknesses and formulate a plan to grow both. I’m not looking back and repeating the mistakes I’ve made by not asking for help and am setting up a support system now, before the storms hit.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
I KNOW that trials are coming my way. In fact, as I sit here typing this during the first week of 2019, the trials are real. The storms are brewing. I feel them coming and see them on the radar. I know that I won’t be able to withstand them if my roots are shallow. No one else can MAKE me grow. It’s something that I have to do. I can’t look to others to supply the dirt and nutrient dense water to help my roots grow deeper – I need to grab the supplies I need and spend time cultivating those roots so they can grow around the rocks during this dry season.
I’m not the best wife. I’m a hot mess as a mom. My relationships with family and friends have suffered recently. My service to the church has been selfish in the past. My desires have been evil. My thoughts have not been focused on Christ. I want to change that. I want my life to be reflective of Him. I need to be rooted in Christ so that the branches of my life reflect Him and His grace. I need Him to be my source of life, not my selfish motives.
As I strive to follow Him and dig deeper into Him, I know that certain people, ministries, “obligations” may get pushed out of the way. Some areas of my life will need to be to neglected and I will need to reorder my priorities. I know it won’t be easy. In fact, I’m certain it will be difficult. Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this sinful world but that He will give us peace, strength, and comfort during those times. As Christians, we know that when we are fighting to grow in our relationship with Him, Satan is working harder to cut us down. The devil uses discouragement, frustration, busyness, other people, sour circumstances, health issues, and many more weapons to bring us down. But when I suit up each day with the armor of God (see Ephesians 6) and grab my sword (of the Spirit – the Bible), I will be able to be rooted in Him. God won’t let the storms of life uproot me but will use those storms to make my roots grow stronger and deeper in Him. I need my roots to be deep and in good soil in order to produce a harvest for Him.
Throughout 2019, you may see the “rooted” theme throughout my posts. I pray that as my roots grow deeper in Him, others will be able to the enjoy the fruit…who knows, that may be you.
Colossians 2:6-7 – “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
Ephesians 3:14-19 – “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
Proverbs 12:3 – “A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved.”