34: Rooted and Grounded

     Last Fall I wrote about my journey to love God and be loved by Him, in the September newsletter entitled “First Things First”. Here is one paragraph from this article.

     I see with new eyes that the best thing I can do for my family is fall in love with God and His Word continually. A heart relationship with my heavenly Father is what prepares and equips me to teach my children and love my wife. As I love God and His Word, discipleship will flow from my heart to the heart of my family.

     God has continued to reveal His love for me in new and wonderful ways. These experiences are so intimate and precious that I can hardly share them. I have believed that God loved me since He is a loving God, and He loves the world. Now I am experiencing that He really loves me. That He likes me, just the way I am, for He created and made me.

     What has been somewhat disconcerting, is even with these precious encounters with the living God, it is difficult to change lifelong patterns of thinking and walk in light of these new truths every day. I am discovering that living daily in the light of the truth about God and His personal care take time to sink in. 

     The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, encourages the Ephesian believers to be “rooted and grounded in love”, and then prays that they “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”, Ephesians 3:17-19

     What does it mean to be rooted and grounded in God’s love? I envision a sturdy oak tree with deep roots. Storms and winds may come and go but this tree is so grounded that it is unaffected by the elements. I want to so embrace the truth of God’s affection for me, His unconditional acceptance and grace, that I will be steady and unmoved by the currents of change that swirl around my soul.

Guard the Truth

     As I continued to meditate and pray about what it means to be rooted and grounded in love, the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 came to mind. Jesus taught that there were four ways that we can lose “the word of the kingdom” which is represented by a seed, or kernel of truth.

1. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path”.

2. Some was “sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away”.

3.  Others were “sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful”. 

4. “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty”.

     I understand that for me to be rooted and grounded in the precious truth of God’s love, I have to guard against each of these situations. I recognize from reading in Revelation 2:4, that the Ephesian church “left their first love”. I am painfully aware that while still following Jesus, I can receive this knowledge of God’s love with joy, but allow persecution, the cares of this world, or the deceitfulness of riches to choke the truth and it will prove unfruitful. 

Meditate on the Truth

     As I continued to seek God about how to become rooted and grounded, I was encouraged by the image of a tree in Psalm 1. God shows us how to deepen our roots and become a tree “that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 

     With the help of God, I am choosing to meditate and dwell on the truth, so I will be this tree. For many years whenever I heard Romans 12:2 referenced it was in the context of a Christian worldview discussion or Creation.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”

I like the way the NLT expresses this verse: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2 

     Now I see that to be transformed, I need to have my mind renewed in the truth about God, and how He thinks about me. I am convinced that in order for me to be a godly caring husband, and a nurturing patient father, I need to be rooted and grounded in God’s love. 

    As I receive love I am equipped to give love. But it is difficult to extend grace to others , as God in Christ has extended it to me, until I receive and experience God’s grace myself. “He who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47 

Good Fruit

     Let me close with an example of good fruit that this has produced in my relationship with my wife. We were having a discussion about a topic that was difficult for me to hear. Sandi was sharing a painful experience that I was partially to blame. She spoke the truth gently and in love, but it was still difficult to hear. 

     In the past I would have taken her words personally, become uncomfortable, and begun to mentally martial my thoughts to defend myself. Being very sensitive to my state, she would then find it difficult to continue talking and begin to shut down herself. I would be wounded and upset, she would be unable to continue. The whole conversation would be unprofitable and even hurtful to her.

     But now that I am in this new place, rooted and grounded, I was able to not only hear her, I was also able to understand how she would have felt, and I sat there and wept with her as I felt her pain and grief. The fruit was healing for her, understanding for me, and intimacy and closeness for us.

     May God help us to be so solid in our vertical relationship with God that we are then equipped to be who He created and designed us to be with those around us, particularly our wife and children.