As autumn settled across New York State and we were blessed to enjoy the great beauty of the changing of the leaves. In my many walks through the woods with my littlest girls I found myself turning my head up to observe the beauty of the leaf canopy.
Picture after picture was taken…
Avari even took to shaking the trees to help the leaves fall faster…
I find my mind thinking about what is below, mostly unseen… the trees roots. I’ve read that for a tree to have a leaf canopy as large as it does, the roots of the tree will extend at least as far as the leaf radius, often 2-3 times as broad. A solid root system provides a tree stability, water and nourishment.
Roots are so important that when many types of seeds are planted, before they ever start to grow up above the soil seeking sunlight, they first grow down creating roots.
Roots aren’t only important to seeds and trees, they are vital to our growth as well. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “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.” Sometimes WE are so busy trying to grow up that we forget to grow down. When we are firmly planted in the grace of God through Jesus, we can easily want to grow outwardly without establishing the roots of our faith, but they go hand in hand.
To live our lives for Christ is an outward expression of an inward reality.
When we try to live it out without inner transformation… well… we are like a plant trying so hard to grow up that withers and dies because its roots are too small to sustain growth OR like a tree uprooted by strong winds, our faith blows to pieces when the storms of life press hard.
So what’s a person to do? How do you “grow down”? How do you “root your faith”?
Back to discipleship. What does it mean? Webster’s defines it as “the state of being a disciple or follower in doctrines and precepts.” Helpful? Probably not too much. And I think that’s the problem. Even if we’ve heard the word discipleship before it isn’t a term most of us use with fluency or regularity. What cuts deeper, we aren’t intentional about discipleship either.
Discipleship is about growing to be like Jesus.
Friends, take some serious time to examine the concept of discipleship, talk within your churches and small groups about it, seek to deepen your growth as a disciple and open your eyes to those God has placed in your life to help in their discipleship.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says,“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
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.”
Even when planted in the perfect place, a tree by the river still needs to grow its roots, that is how it connects itself with the life-giving, life-sustaining power of the river. Colossians 2:6 says that “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord…” That’s the start; a start is a beginning. For believers it is a new birth to a new life in Christ. Just as a new plant begins with a seed forming roots so too do we need to be “rooted and built up in him” which is what allows us to be “strengthened in the faith” and live a life “overflowing with thankfulness.”
If it seems your faith is withering under the heat of life or falling over as the storms of life assault…
Grow down… root your faith.-Study the scriptures, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you. -Join (or start) a small group to encourage and engage scripture together. -Participate in worship and actively listen to solid teaching. -Seek an “older brother or sister” in the faith to walk this journey with you. -Live out your faith. This isn’t a class with a test of knowledge but a life to be lived!
A few years ago we hiked to see the eternal flame falls and as spectacular as I found that sight, what I still remember today are the trees along the gorge. Small trees hanging out of the cliffs seemingly against all odds, except for their roots, dug deep into the hillside connecting them with nourishment and providing the strength to hang on and grow.
Lord, help us to live a life that glorifies you as we grow more like you minute by minute, day by day. Let us not be complacent in our relationship with you, instead, ever-seeking a deeper understanding of who you are, who you desire us to be and a greater love of you in how we live. Open our eyes to the beauty of discipleship, the deepening of our character which enables us to truly grow. Open our “ears” to the Holy Spirit as we study your word, strengthen our relationships as we seek to grow in community and give us the ability to teach, mentor and truly invest in the discipleship of others. Amen.