Earlier this week I wrote about feeling uprooted during this season of life. (To read that blog post, click here).
From the responses I’ve received, it seems many of us are sharing the same feelings of being ripped, stripped, with a tangible sense of loss, without much sense of predictability for the future.
But I don’t want to leave us there – dangling – with our roots hanging and exposed, much like the roots from the trees uprooted from the tornado in our small town of Independence, Texas.
Because as many trees as I saw toppled from the tornado, I saw many more standing straight and tall, branches uplifted from the earth, stretching wide towards a bright blue sky with roots that held firm during the fierce winds of the storm.
And when I think back on those trees – the ones that were uprooted along with those left standing straight and tall – this is what I know: while God uproots, He also plants. He strips and lays bare, but He also heals. And He never undoes us or uproots us from one place without planting us in another.
I’ve thought a lot this week about those oaks trees that stayed standing.
Through the years, I have watched my husband and father-in-law carefully tend to those trees, both the ones on our property and on my in-law’s property next door. During the five years of the Texas drought from May of 2010 through July of 2015, I watched as my father-in-law labored with a hose walking from tree to tree on his property, soaking the roots with gallon after gallon of water.
Because here’s the thing about live oak trees in Texas – they are not grown overnight. They are tended to, watered, and deliberately fed. In fact, a mature live oak tree, on average, takes in fifty gallons of water a day. Fifty.
That’s a lot of water – especially during seasons of drought.
And to lose an oak tree that has been planted, nurtured, and grown in the soil for 200 years is to lose a precious thing. The shade and beauty it provides is worth the tending and care.
Throughout Scripture, mature believers in Christ are referred to as trees. And not just any old tree, but a tree “planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3). A tree “planted by water, that sends its roots out by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought” (Jeremiah 17:8).
Here is an interesting fact about the Hebrew word for “planted” in both Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17 – it actually means “transplanted.”
People whose trust is in the Lord aren’t just fruit bearing trees, or green trees, or rooted trees – they are transplanted trees. They are people who have been in one place and are plucked up, uprooted, taken out of the soil of one area, and planted in another.
The act of transplanting a small bush or flower isn’t that much of a process or ordeal. But a tree? A tree whose roots have been growing in the soil for decades or 200 years? That’s more like major surgery than simple uprooting.
Right now, I feel like a tree whose roots have been planted in a certain spot for years, even decades. God has used the past few months and weeks of corona and stay-at-home, a crashing economy, rioting, racism, rifts in relationships, and the fear and sin in my very own to heart to pluck me up out of wrong thoughts I have been thinking, lies I’ve been believing, and ways I have been behaving.
And can I be frank for just one minute? It hurts.
Uprooting hurts like heck.
But while God has done a lot of uprooting the past few weeks and months, He has also started the process of transplanting – He is teaching me how to think, act, behave, and believe in new ways, and put my roots down in a different place, in a new type of soil. And while I am watching this happen in my own life, I am also watching this happen in the lives of many other people as well.
I don’t think our season of uprooting is done, either personally or nationally. I think there is more to come. But I also think God wants us to pay attention not only to what He wants to uproot but what He wants to plant.
And planting takes soaking, maturing, and drinking in gallons and gallons of water on a daily basis, just like those Texas live oak trees.
While oak trees find their water through a tank, river, rain, or a hose, believers in Christ find their water in the living Word of God.
I cannot remember another season of my life where I have been this dependent on the Word of God. The irony is that I am always this dependent. My soul was not made to go without the water of God’s Spirit and God’s Word for more than a day at a time. But in times of abundance where everything around me is green, I can delude myself into thinking taking small sips every now and again is sufficient.
But not anymore. As I look around me and inside of me and see that we are in a season of drought, I am more aware of my need for water more than ever. I am aware that if I do not want to wither and shrivel in the season of uprooting I find myself in, I must soak my heart and mind in the Word of God each and every day. I need it; my kids need it; my marriage needs it; my family needs it; my friendships need it; my church and community and city and nation need it.
But this soaking and watering, transplanting and bearing fruit, even in seasons of drought, must begin with me. I cannot demand something from my spouse I am not doing myself. I cannot impart living water to my children if I am not first drinking it in myself. I cannot expect change in my nation or community if I am not first changing and uprooting, transplanting and soaking, myself. Change begins with me. And transplanting begins with the Word of God.
Over the next two weeks, I am going to post a several videos that talk about ways for us to soak in the Word of God as men, women, kids, families, and new Christians as well as seasoned believers. In these videos, I will provide specific ideas and resources to use in this season of summer, uprooting, and transplanting and easy links to access these resources. My hope is that if you are looking for a cup of cold water to drink, these resources will help to slake your thirst.
Because let me tell you something – God is speaking. He is speaking, and in His voice there is power to uproot, to plant, and to create.
But this creating will not happen in you or in me without long, intentional times of soaking in God’s Word each and every day. This planting will not happen without tapping into our water source of His Word on a daily, regular basis. But when we do, and as we do, things are going to start to grow.
Mark my words.
I just want to make sure I’m listening – and when we start listening together, there is no telling what God will do.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
For more encouragement throughout the week, you can find me on Instagram @baker.susannah.