They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:8
My husband and I paid a visit to Menards last Saturday. I had reached my threshold of deferred hope for the arrival of spring and desperately needed a garden fix. With the high for the day slated at 9 degrees, an indoor lawn and garden center was my only hope. My spirits are always lifted while browsing seed racks and, with any luck, seeing and touching a plant or two.
I was overjoyed to find a full aisle of green, complete with a small section of annuals – unexpected in light of the implausibility of planting season arriving anytime soon. I snatched up an eight-pack of orange pansies and a small galvanized pot and headed to the checkout; anxious to get my hands in the soil and waft that earthy smell to my nostrils. I buried the tray inside my coat on the way to the truck to lessen the threat of shock.
As soon as we arrived home I got busy setting up a make-shift planting station on my kitchen counter. The moment my hand clutched the bottom of a cell I knew there was an issue. I pushed up gently, trying to dislodge a single plant, but nothing happened. I tapped the bottom a bit harder, squeezed it a few times and gingerly flipped it over. No movement.
My new flowers had the appearance of healthy plants… but were completely root bound.
One true thing I know about plants —they require space to grow. A plant with adequate room will naturally spread its roots to increase access to nutrients and water. With ample room to grow a plant can thrive and reach its full potential.
A root bound plant is a plant that has outgrown the container it is planted in. With no room to expand, roots have no choice but to grow in a circular pattern, wind around one another, and eventually knot themselves into a tangled mess.
What are the signs of a root-bound plant? —Slow growth or no new growth at all.
When a plant becomes root-bound available nutrients are quickly depleted. Water cannot flow freely around the roots to nourish and cleanse them. Consequently some roots develop fungal rot, others die. The growth of the plant is stunted. It will never reach its potential nor bear the intended fruit.
~ New Growth often requires Replanting ~
The only hope for a root-bound plant is a fresh start, and that means replanting. Replanting begins with uprooting —the plant must be dislodged from its current environment. Diseased portions of its roots must be removed. Then slices must be cut in the root-ball to loosen the living roots and encourage outward growth again. Finally the plant must be re-planted in a new environment that offers space to grow.
From the vantage point of a plant this is not an easy process. In fact it is painful. Being uprooted is bad. Really bad. And scary. Impending-doom type scary. Replanting means a period of vulnerability and risk. There is unavoidable trauma. Even after the process is complete it takes time for the plant to become firmly rooted again.
However, the gardener knows what the plant does not. When replanting is performed with wisdom and care, the newly cut roots will heal, health will be restored and growth will begin again —more rigorously than before.
Many life changes have transpired in our household over the past few years. Not all of them were anticipated or particularly welcome at the time.
On the surface, we looked relatively healthy. We were a fairly happy family. Our kids were well behaved and liked by others. We faithfully attended a local church and served in leadership. We homeschooled, stayed active, and embraced wholesome living. All in all we looked pretty good: but if you had ‘flipped us over’ you would have discovered something was awry.
Honestly, under the surface we had an inkling something wasn’t right. Leading up to the start of the whole thing both my hubby and I had been going through a spiritual dry season; struggling to find meaning and purpose in our current faith context. It seemed the harder we tried the worse it got. Everything around us felt stagnant; somehow artificial.
It took some time before we could even admit it to one another, but we were secretly miserable. A spirit of unrest and discontentment was welling up within our souls. Our hearts were sickened by the mediocrity of our own life. We yearned for change. We longed to be restored to the joyous and vibrant faith we had previously known.
Though we could not fully articulate the underlying cause, the symptoms were blatantly obvious. We were not experiencing the abundant life promised through our redemption. The problem was clear —it was the solution that was beyond our grasp.
God knew what was wrong and what was needed. There was so much entanglement in our life that we had stopped growing.
There were a myriad of causes. Our faith had slowly become bound by religious service. Our daily life had become a little too comfortable. The things comprising our sense of security had become barriers to growth. Our dreams and passions had somehow morphed into idols. Our love for the ‘works of our own hands’ —the good life we were creating— had gradually trumped our passion for the Lord.
Of course we were not aware of any of that at the time… but God was.
Without knowing it we had become spiritually root bound. We desperately needed the living water to flow in our lives once more, to cleanse us and breathe new life into our existence.
~ The solution was a drastic one — UPROOTING and replanting ~
It began with upheaval in almost every aspect of our lives; financially, geographically, and relationally. Our entire life, from an earthly standpoint, fell apart. We had to walk away from the dream-home we had built, everyone and everything that was familiar, and start over.
It took time, but ultimately we came to understand that there were things in our life that needed to be revealed and confronted. We needed time to heal. We needed space to grow.
The process entailed uprooting from the circumstances that were blocking the Light and our view of God’s plan for us. Old soil had to be shaken off and unhealthy roots had to be removed. It was hard. It was painful. We faced uncertainty and more than our share of fearful moments.
Yet as dead and diseased portions of our life were cut away, we slowly began to experience release from bondage we didn’t even realize existed. Fear eventually gave way to freedom as we stretched out into new spiritual territory.
The next season of our lives became one of the most fruitful and blessed legs of our journey together. Our faith (and that of our children) bloomed in ways we had never experienced as our spiritual landscape was thinned out —less focus on doing and more focus on simply following Jesus and planting Kingdom seeds.
~ A Planting of the Lord ~
Are you going through an unsettling time in life? Does it feel like the very things you are clinging to are slipping from your reach? Perhaps the Gardener is doing a replanting in your life.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a geographical uprooting, as it was in our case. It may be that God is doing a replanting in you emotionally, psychologically or spiritually.
He desires for you to flourish —to be all that He created you to be. He is a loving Father and unwilling to stand by and see you wither from lack of growth. He knows the plans He has for you, and He is willing to do what it takes to free you to walk in that plan; even if it means momentary discomfort.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
~ What I Learned ~
Don’t Cling —Stay loose. Everything in this life is temporal. Allow Him to give and to take away according to His eternal plan and purpose for you.
Be Moveable —Listen to His voice and respond. The Lord desires that we are steadfast in Him; but malleable in allowing Him to shape our lives and transform us. He is trustworthy and faithful to tend that which He replants.
You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. Psalm 80:8-9
Be Fearless —stretch, reach and spread your roots. Do not become entangled in the things of this world. You were created to thrive. Embrace the freedom Christ died to give you and live abundantly!
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green… Psalm 91:12-14
Stay Rooted —first and foremost, root yourself in Jesus Christ alone. Draw your life from Him. Feed on His word. Allow the Living Water to flow in you and through you. Open up and bask in the Son. Reach for the heavens and keep your eyes on Him.
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. Colossians 2:6