Growing Roots ~ Week 28
I’ve learned a lot about God, my walk with Him, and spiritual growth this week through things in nature. Two things in my yard, to be exact. My garden plants and the crepe myrtle tree in my front yard. Let me start by explaining what I learned from the crepe myrtle tree.
When we first moved into our house, it was January. This tree was so ugly that I asked my husband and father-in-law to cut it down, but they insisted that we had other yard work that was higher on their priority life and that this tree could wait for a year or two. I am so thankful they forced me to wait. This tree, while ugly in the winter, holds magnificent beauty in the summer. But it goes through this unique, disgusting, and messy process in the summer before its beauty is discovered…it sheds its bark.
Every year, my husband suspects that something has happened to the tree and assumes that it’s not going to bloom since most of the crepe myrtles in the area have already bloomed. Yet every year, it develops that magnificent, radiant, bright pink blossoms, but only after it sheds it bark.
This year was no different. After thinking that we had somehow maligned our tree, the bark began to shed and the blossoms began to emerge. The shedding of the bark looks quite painful as it comes off in strips that hang from the tree, but the bark is actually quite thin (easy for the lawnmower to chop up) and fragile.
When the tree began to shed its bark this week, my son commented on how ugly it looked. And when you look up close, you would have to agree. But as you take a step back form the tree, you can see how it becomes more beautiful. As you take another step back and view the entire tree, you no longer focus on the messy bark because you behold the strikingly beautiful tree as a whole.
Much like our relationship to Christ.
When we become Christians and begin our walk with Christ, we grow our roots deep into His Word. But as time goes on, we may look like we have become stagnant (and perhaps we have). Then as His Word showers us with His promises and blessings, our leaves begin to grow. But there is still the painful process of shedding our bark, our old life, as we strive let His beauty shine through us.
At first, we only see the ugliness, the sins that the Bible exposes in our lives. We may be tempted to give up and cut down the tree. But if we wait, dig our roots deeper into His Word while surrounding ourselves with people who will lift us up and encourage us and hold us accountable, we can see the beauty of growth and so can the rest of the world. As we travel through this life, growing through the various trials that come, we can look back at the bigger picture of our lives and see God’s handiwork through it all. And the result is a masterpiece that only He could have planned.
The other thing nature taught me was that we need constant watering. This week, the weather forecast predicted rain most days. And while I’ve learned to not rely on the information from the meteorologist to determine whether or not to water my garden, some days I become lazy and would prefer to take them at their word if they say there is an 80% chance or higher of rain. But, once again, this week I learned my lesson when I didn’t water the garden or my pots one day and my plants began to wilt because it got incredibly hot but didn’t not rain. The next day, my poor plants looked pitiful! Granted, they were still producing a harvest because they had been watered well the previous days and weeks. But even after one day of no water, they were showing signs of exhaustion. And trying to rescue them the next morning didn’t revive them as quickly as they withered. It takes days of consistent water (and sometimes extra watering) to restore them to their previous health.
Our spiritual lives can be like that.
We attend church regularly, read our Bibles daily, pray consistently, and then decide to take some time off because our lives are “too busy” or we are just “too tired”. We neglect our routine prayer and study time and try to supplement with a podcast. Or we decide that it’s ok to skip church “just this once” to go to the lake or amusement park because “we can go to church next week”. And then one day turns into two and then three. One service turns into four and then five. We may even produce “fruit” for the first little bit but when the harvest wanes, we just figure it’s a “dry” season. All of the sudden, we’re facing trial after trial and can’t figure out what’s going on. We can’t remember the last time we fellowshipped with other believers let alone opened our Bibles or communed personally and intimately with the Father. We realize that we have made a mistake and try to get back into the habit, but it can be so difficult. We find we need extra “watering” to help get us back on track.
If you’ve found yourself needing some extra “watering”, that’s ok. The first step is to recognize you have a problem, right? So then, find some loving Christians to walk along beside you, helping to drench you in God’s Word and promises and to hold you accountable to absorbing the nutrients.
Maybe your spiritual life is “dry” and you feel ugly and the pain of your shedding bark is weighing you down. Take a breath, run to the Savior, and then take a step back and look at the beauty He can bring to you through your struggles in life. But don’t stop there…TELL OTHERS what He’s doing in your life and let HIM shine through you as you grow your roots deeper in Him and let His fruit become evident in your life.