“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3
“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.” Colossians 2
“Water until established.” A tag on on a plant I bought.
I’ve been reading through some stages of faith pieces, and thinking through how we evolve and move through our personal stages of faith. Just as scientists have tried to measure how our bodies, our minds, and our cultures evolve – trying to map certain stages and markers along the way – many anthropologists and researchers within the fields of human studies have taken on the task of examining and writing about stages of our spiritual development too.
At the same time I’m reading this stuff I’m watching my sons navigate their own faith and observing my high school small group girls as they learn and grow. So currently I’m kinda swimming in the observations made in the initial stages of faith, which is also making me reflect on when I first decided to invest in a relationship with God.
Do you remember what kicked off your spiritual journey? What was the spark? Or maybe, for you, it was more a recognition of something that was already there all along.
The passages above from some of the letter’s written to the early Church are some of my favorite. I love this idea of being “rooted and established,” solidly planted. I think about how deep and wide our roots can stretch and how the more “rooted and built up” I allow myself to become the more solid I feel.
Remember I’ve also mentioned how terrible I am at keeping plants alive? Like all plants. Even cactus. A huge part of this is my inability to follow directions. This is also why I think I struggle with cooking. In the middle of plant shopping for my next series of victims Sal pointed out, looking at the instructions for care on a particular plant, “Maybe we don’t do a good job of letting them get established. It says ‘water until established.’”
And therein lies a theme in certain seasons of my spiritual journey in leadership. I just toss plants, and sometimes people, out there, without considering their depth of establishment.
I started to read about plants. Different plants require different lengths of time to become established. Some plants require a couple of weeks, others, a couple of years.
Meanwhile, I’m over here just tossing plants into the yard, maybe watering them once a week and then considering “it rained enough at some point this week” as a qualifier toward establishment.
I would say that during the first half of my years in ministry I did something similar with developing leaders. I wasn’t always considerate when it came to them being rooted and established. Now don’t get me wrong, some personalities thrive when being “tossed into the deep end,” they develop roots quickly and are more sink or swim learners. But others are not. And even the strongestly (new word) rooted plants can be uprooted when pulled on enough.
Think on your faith journey. How has it ebbed and flowed? What were moments of feeling rooted and established? What were moments when you felt completely uprooted? How have you been led? How are you leading others? Do you consider other’s root depth when it comes to your expectations?
The prayers and hopes for the early churches that received these letters was that they would become more and more established, to realizing more and more the depth of God’s love. Which in the end, is where our strength and ability to love well, stems from. And God is not a fickle gardener like me. He is not in a hurry with us.
Even if you think you are a “sink or swim” learner, be sure to make sure you are practicing making space to further become more rooted and established.