I remember working in the blueberry field at Spring Rain Farm two years ago, weeding out overgrown thistles and sorrel colonies. The berry plants themselves were still fairly young and we had to be extra careful as we were working around them so as not to disturb their roots. If we grabbed the wrong root shoot, a slight tug would unearth the whole plant and we’d have to re-plant it back into the soil immediately – any time spent out of nutritious soil is shocking to the root system and delays the growth of the plant.
For whatever reason, a fair number of blueberry plants in that field were easily uprooted, having a hard time establishing and grounding themselves in the soil amongst all the aggressive weed pressure.
something I’ve learned about transplanting potted plants in the landscaping business, is that however you prepare the home soil for the new plant (be it shrub, tree, bulb or herbacious flowers), once you do any amending and mixing in of minerals or organic matter, you want to water pretty heavily both before and after planting so that there’s a good supply of moisture for the new guy – water is essential for transporting nutrients through the soil to the roots. And finally, once you’ve planted, you want to stomp the ground around the plant to squeeze out any air pockets remaining in the soil – there are no nutrients in air and though it is critical for life, too much of it keeps the roots from getting fed, which in turn stresses the plant.
In the same way that the soil conditions and quality matter so much to plants, so our own life conditions and quality matter to our spirit.
In Ephesians 3 where Paul write in verse 17, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” This rooting and grounding is essential for our growth in Christ. It is through establishing our foundation in Him that we are nourished and capable of expanding, stretching our limbs, and growing.
As most gardeners and farmers know, the size of the plant above ground level is in direct proportion to the size of its below-ground members – with the underground portion growing to many times the size and spread of the parts we can see. The fraction of a person that lives in the visible, physical body is merely a fraction of the whole being. If we are firmly rooted and nourished in our invisible parts with the Lord, the rest of our being will prosper and grow. But if access to nutrients, water or air is hindered in our foundation, our whole being will suffer, being stunted.
The things which nourish our roots are time with God in prayer and thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7), sound teaching and doctrine, and putting our gifts and talents to use (1 Timothy 4:13-15), and being intentional about surrounding ourselves with other Christians and fellowshipping with believers (Hebrews 10:24-25).
All plants want to grow, are yearning to produce fruit and scatter their seeds for the next generation, they will spend their life and full force of energy to do this, reaching out to sometimes impossible depths to get the food and nutrients needed to create and sustain that healthy, vibrant life.
Roots will generally grow in any direction where the correct environment of air, mineral nutrients, and water exists to meet the plant’s needs. Roots will not grow in dry soil. Over time, given the right conditions, roots can crack foundations, snap water lines, and lift sidewalks.
Can we say the same thing about our spiritual growth and life with God? Are we intentionally seeking the source of our nourishment and being? Are we breaking through the concrete of hardened hearts, lifting the oppressive systems that trod on the poor and ‘least of these’? Or are we poorly rooted, allowing the adventitious weeds and empty air to gradually separate us from Life?