Finally, the sun is warm enough, and the days are long enough to start gardening in the state of Colorado. We are redoing a garden area, and digging deep to eliminate old mulch. What we found in the soil was roots – lots of roots. Old roots, new roots — they all run out from the source like a giant spiderweb, reaching out to absorb whatever water and nutrition they can find.
Likewise, do your roots run deep?
Philip Yancey provided a thought-provoking quote:
“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. Human beings have roots by virtue of their real, active and natural participation in the life of a community…” (Simone Weil, Uprootedness, 1949).
While some political systems attempt to push humanity into one organism, one class, one common society, governed by one ideology, it will never happen. People are too different, too diverse to be forced into a cookie-cutter mold with everyone else.
I started thinking about the obvious diversity in our society that I love: Italian food, German sausages, Mexican salsa, Japanese sushi, English toffee and Scottish tartans – just to name a few! I remember fondly the food my mom fixed that reflected her southern Mississippi up-bringing; we laughed when she occasionally slipped, and her vocabulary revealed a southern childhood. We are delighted by the cultural differences of one another and are enriched beyond imagination by the creativity of those who are different from us. Thank God native roots are deeply engrained in us, and we gladly share those roots with other people who grew up in a completely different soil! If, indeed, “rootedness” is a very important part of the human soul, it needs to be recognized and celebrated, not judged and suppressed.
In the past, I have traveled to many countries outside of America; I especially loved being at the beach and smelling the ocean. But “my heart” was and still is in the Rocky Mountains, where I grew up. My roots go deep into the snow-capped mountains, the clear streams, the smell of the aspen trees and the dark, forest green trees. I do not apologize for the color of my skin, nor the location of my birth. I don’t regret being raised during the twentieth century, nor taught to love the country of my origin. These are thing I cannot change; they are my deep roots. They are who I am; I can only thrive and grow “where I am planted,” and be grateful for it.
The image of a “root” is prolific in the Bible, because the Israelite nation was an agrarian nation. Their calendar was controlled by planting and harvesting. Affluence meant good crops and drought meant starvation. Jesus often used agricultural imagery in his parables and teachings. In fact, the metaphor “the root of Jesse” is used of Jesus, as the promised Messiah (see Isa 11:1, 10; 53:2; Ro 15:12). This means, of course, that Jesus was born in the family linage of David, who was the son of Jesse, in the tribe of Judah. Jesus is the Savior, the Christ — the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, [who] has triumphed” (Rev 5:5).
Therefore, if our roots are in the main “Root,” who is our Source, we are in the best place ever. Jesus is the nurturing and the nourishment we need to grow and bloom abundantly. As believers, we are rooted in the love of Christ: Paul told his church, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the Lord’s holy people [the church!], to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love to Christ….” (Eph 3:16-18). This is not something that we earn, or deserve. Being rooted in Christ is a gift, and it is a choice that we make to stay deeply connected to him.
Let’s be honest. Some of our roots are not good roots; they are, in fact, a past that needs to be purged, and a present that needs to be discarded. Our society and our culture are filled with dangerous and evil plants. Like digging up thorny weeds, and destroying their root systems, we need to get rid of the old thoughts and wounds, as well as the lies and deception that try to choke out the goodness of life. Unchecked, weeds can just take over a good plot of ground, and thereby make the ground useless.
“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. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world, rather than on Christ” (Col 2:6-8). Amen.