How deep are your roots?
Back when I studied in Germany, there was a forested area I enjoyed slipping away to in the afternoons. This allegory is from my time there.
I pulled on my runners and slipped out the door. With a smile, I breathed in the fresh rainy air. After a morning in lectures and a noisy meal in the dining hall, it was lovely to be outside.
To fend off the chilly edge in the air I tugged on my jacket zipped.
I had a couple of hours before I needed to return to the school, so I headed past the charming little stone church built decades before and followed the street.
After a time, I veered off on a side path. It was slightly muddy due to the dampness of the day.
Softly I sang as I walked, whispering my favourite worship songs into the emptiness of the world around me.
I stooped to check on a familiar stream. It was flowing well today.
When a bird fluttered nearby I paused to watch. As it flew away, I strolled on.
At length, my way led me into a more wild section of forest. It had no paths to guide my feet, but I didn’t mind. I knew the patch of forest was surrounded by civilization on all sides. I couldn’t get too lost.
As I roamed freely among the trees, pausing to study the vines clinging to the tree trunks, or the moss underfoot, I noticed a fallen tree. Had it been there the last time I’d wandered through? I couldn’t remember.
Approaching the fallen tree, I eyed its base. How odd it was.
The tree had not broken its trunk nor torn off from its roots.
Rather, the roots had stayed with the tree and taken much of the ground with it.
Indeed as I rounded the bottom of the tree, I marvelled at the layer of rocky soil now vertically suspended nearly as high as I was tall.
I leaned closer, wondering if I could spot evidence of larger roots still in the ground. I couldn’t.
The tree’s roots hadn’t broken, but they also hadn’t been deep enough to properly anchor the tree. Not only that, but the soil into which the roots had grown was too loose and rocky to keep the tree secure.
Marvelling at the sight, I pondered what I could learn from it.
It didn’t take long to think of an application.
The Bible mentions roots several times.
One example of this is in the Parable of the Sower. The seeds sown on rocky soil have no root. They hear the word and receive it, but when trouble comes they fall away for lack of root. (You can read the parable in Matthew 13:3-8,18-23.)
Challenges come in life.
For a tree, those challenges may be strong winds, heavy snow, or simply the weight of the tree’s own branches. If the tree doesn’t have strong enough roots, it will tip over.
In the case of the tree I observed in that forest, the tree had roots, but they weren’t deep enough or in good enough soil to hold the tree upright in the challenges of life. The roots themselves didn’t break, but they took the loose rocky soil with them when they tipped.
The question to ask myself, then, is how are my roots doing? Do I have deep roots? What sort of soil are my roots anchored into? Am I anchoring my life in Jesus?
In closing, here is another place the Bible mentions roots that serves as a valuable reminder for me.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)