It was 2011. I had been praying about my word for the year. Just as the calendar turned to January 1, God gave me my word: ROOTED.
A usual, I didn't know what God would choose to teach me through it over the year, but I knew the context. Immediately, this verse came to mind:
"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." — Colossians 2:6,7
At the time, I so wanted to be built up in Christ. I had deep longings for service, for opportunities, for His direction. Although I didn't understand it then, He was telling me, "You must be rooted first."
It's helpful to think deeply for a moment on the purpose and function of roots. An agricultural society would understand the significance more readily than our culture that scarcely knows how to grow anything other than mold in the fridge (myself included!)
Roots serve multiple functions:
1) Roots anchor the tree. Without the roots, without the deep penetration into the soil, the tree could not survive. What we see when we look at a beautiful tree is only half the reality. The other half lies beneath, doing the work that allows the beauty to be exposed.
2) Roots take up minerals and water from the soil, transforming into life-giving sustenance for the tree.
3) Roots store food for use in later growth — in the trunk, branches, and leaves.
Over the course of the year, God showed me what it meant to be rooted. He taught me that the reason I so often felt beaten down was that my roots were shallow. I would let them grow for a while and then pull them up when waiting caused me to lose interest. He taught me that without being rooted, I could not be nourished. Yes, of course, I would survive temporarily, but wilting and dying was inevitable. He taught me that the more I rooted, the more I could store for when the heat and drought came.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream. and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield." — Jeremiah 17:7-9
About halfway through 2011, my roots began to take hold. Beginning when I was twelve years old, God's word fascinated me. I remember my spirit being quickened the first time and in the thousands of instances that followed, I had no trouble believing that God's Word was truly living and active. However, wanting to read God's Word and actually doing it are two very different things.
But today, I am reflecting on what regular and systematic reading of God's Word over the course of four years has done. Never has the benefit been more clear to me than over the last six months.
As I mentioned before, I didn't expect the wave. And after feeling better for a few weeks, I certainly didn't expect another wave to come crashing down. And yet, it did. Already weary from before, I scarcely had breath to keep going.
"If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction." — Psalm 119:92
I read that verse a few days ago and it was all very clear to me: had I not found my delight in God's Word and intentionally rooted myself in it, I would have perished. Whether that death would have been physical, spiritual, or emotional...I don't know. I don't want to know. What I do know is that God's Word has sustained me. Is sustaining me. It is my life. My strength. My song. My deliverance.
That is because Jesus sustains me. He is my Life. My Strength. My Song. My Deliverance.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God...In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men." John 1:1-5
As the wave recedes, I am thankful once again that I have rooted myself in the Word. I am standing strong with joy in my heart, even as I tend to my emotional and mental injuries. This is only possible because I have been well-nourished and well-supplied for the future.
Is it any wonder we have given ourselves to the cause of the Bibleless people? If I know the One Thing that can truly save and satisfy, how could I be loving to do anything but work to ensure everyone has it? And how could I be loving to not encourage those of you who already have it to saturate yourself in it? There is no alternative to growth, to survival. The 180,000 million people who wait for their very first word of Scripture in a language they can clearly understand need it just as much as you who have to blow the dust off your cover every Sunday.
Why not start today? Why not open those pages and let the living word of Christ penetrate your heart and spirit. Become rooted. There is nothing more beneficial you could do with your time, both for now and for eternity.