January 16

Root-bound?, Part 1

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained…but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:15 …but, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ….

Plants grow when they are healthy. We, too, when we are healthy, should be spiritually growing. But as often happens in nature, we can hit barriers. That’s not a bad thing, as long as we keep growing and make our way past (or through) them.

A common problem with plants not growing well is when they become root-bound. That means that they have outgrown the container they’ve been put in for one reason or another. We can become root-bound, and also for a variety of reasons.

We might be doing all the same things we’ve always done to keep ourselves spiritually healthy, but we keep bumping into the same “walls” of unforgiveness, bitterness or anger. Perhaps there is a step of faith that needs to be taken, and we keep backing away from it, building up a kind of resistance to God’s Spirit.

Or maybe we’ve just gotten a little lazy, or it looks like we’re lazy because we’ve become distracted and discouraged. Or the cares of this world and our pursuit of money or success has begun to choke out the life of God in our hearts. Or we’re just too busy, part of the “new morality” of our culture (i.e., “the busier you are, the better you are!”).

When we get root-bound, our ability to receive nourishment is compromised, sometimes greatly. Even watering and fertilizing can have little impact. (Can you hear the Lord here on this point?)

How to change the situation? For one, try letting God trim your roots. Let Him trim away the rot and all the parts that don’t receive life anymore. Let Him do the pruning He needs to do. Are there activities that prevent you from receiving spiritual life—things that compete with your time with God, your time in the Word, or your time with His people? Let Him trim those so you can start growing again.

Are there worries, fears, “sensitive areas” or strivings in your soul that are robbing your peace and your connection with Him? Let Him—perhaps finally—touch those places and heal you. The process, like trimming, may hurt a bit. But your new ability to receive sustenance will be well worth the effort.

Prayer: Father, show me where I might be root-bound. Where I’m not receiving Your consolation or grace or power or encouragement, please trim me and open up my connections with You that have grown dry or have gotten congested. I want to be open to Your workings and to everything You have to give me.

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