Cutting roots. I have been doing it since childhood. Not in a garden, but in my life. I am a Navy brat; my Dad was in Vietnam and then after that regularly went on six-month cruises on his Fast Frigate. He was in the military twenty-two years, and during those years, he and my Mom moved seventeen times.
It was good practice for me, I suppose. I caught “the bug.” Consequently, after spending two years in any given place, I am ready to move on to something new. Leaving home at twenty-two to spend two years as a global worker in Bangladesh helped satisfy that urge, as did leaving for East Africa at twenty-six.
Being uprooted was not very painful for me.
However, things change. I returned from Africa. I got married in the fall. Now these past six months, my husband and I have bought a house, fixed it up, and prepared for life as global workers in restricted-access countries. I did not realize it fully, but as delightful day followed delightful day, tiny roots sprung out of my heart and twined themselves gently around my new home, my secure relationship with our church, and our families.
Now my six months “at home” are up. We packed up all the things I had lovingly used to make our house a home. We readied our home to rent out to strangers. We sold a car. We said goodbye.
It used to be exciting. It still is, but I can feel those roots trying to hold on. After much tugging and jerking, they snap, one by one.
We all have roots. Some of us dig our roots deep into our hometown, or our church structure, or our career choice. We wrap ourselves so securely around these things we feel safe, settled, and at home. That is a good thing, until we have to uproot for some reason. Suddenly those warm and fuzzy roots become strangleholds. We try to pull away but feel wounds created by stripping off our roots. The roots remain wrapped around whatever we leave, and we are the ones who move on, feeling part of ourselves left behind.
I know going overseas is the right thing for us to do, but I feel I am leaving with trails of half-shredded roots still reaching out behind me.
What am I supposed to do? Roots are not bad, but they must never keep us from obedience. So if roots are good, but we must be willing to sever them for Jesus, there must be something more solid, and yet more flexible, to dig our roots into than our comfort zone.
What does God have to say about roots?
Okay, I have done my research. It is surprising how often God speaks about roots in His Word. Over sixty times, God addresses this issue. So let us look at our options.
Option 1: Have no roots at all.
Some of us may wonder: since uprooting causes so much pain, why develop roots at all? Would we all be better off if we did not settle, did not put down roots anywhere? I tried that philosophy for a few years, and I found it did not work. We humans are not meant to be unconnected to anything.
However, that is just my opinion; let us see what the Bible has to say. The Bible speaks twice about not having any roots. People with no roots become weak. Just as a tree with no roots is destined to topple, so a woman with no roots is destined to fall.
Matthew 13:16 The people with no roots wither away.
Luke 8:13 The people with no roots fall into temptation.
It just makes sense. Trees without roots cannot grow or stand through the smallest of storms.
Option 2: Put our roots in worthless things.
We have enough sense to know not to be rooted in worthless things. The question, though, is not what we know, but what we do. What do you find yourself spending regular time on? Where do you run, to get away from it all? The mall? The TV? A fiction novel? Food? These things are not bad in moderation, but if we find ourselves growing to depend on them for strength, we have developed roots in the wrong places.
Job 8:17 Roots can be wrapped around worthless things.
1 Kings 14:15 God uproots Israel as a punishment.
Israel had dug roots into idols made by man. Can you think of the man-made idols to which we can mistakenly cling? Ask yourself, “Could I live for a week without:
I had to give up all caffeine because my body quickly began to depend on it. When you cannot live without something, that is addiction. Our lives are not intended to be controlled by worthless idols. Trees with roots wrapped around unstable things are as destined to fall as the ones with no roots at all.
Option 3: Put our roots in good things.
So we should uproot ourselves from clinging too tightly to worthless things. Then what? What about all the roots we have spread into and around all the relationships in life: our families, our friends, our churches, and our careers?
Job 29:19 Job had secure roots in many good things, and in one day, all was uprooted.
I do not believe it is wrong to be rooted to the good with which God has blessed us. We women dig roots deep into the relationships in our lives. Those roots are good, but they are not secure. No matter how tightly we may wrap our hopes and dreams around our children, they may walk away from God. Families change, people die, relationships get severed, we move, sickness occurs, and natural disasters happen; all make those roots vulnerable.
If our roots are all wrapped up in the good and not the best, we may find ourselves toppling suddenly when life chops our circumstances into pieces.
Option 4: Secure our roots in the only truly secure place.
So what is the best way? Is there any way to have truly secure roots about which we never have to worry?
Jeremiah 17:7–8 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Ephesians 3:17 …that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love…
Colossians 2:7 …rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Trust. Love. Faith.
We have roots based on all three of these, but often they are wrapped around people. Our life-roots should be in Christ. Roots in Christ can grow and flourish, strengthen through time, and stand up to any storm life sends our way!
I love my friends and family and church. I do not necessarily like the idea of “uprooting” myself from them to move half a world away. Even so, my roots in Christ stay. It is my choice which roots to develop—the ones that may break, or the ones that are secure.
I still need to invest time and energy and love into the relationships in my world. But my roots—the part that draws sustenance; the part that holds me firm; the part that keeps me from toppling over—those roots must be in Christ.
Not in myself.
Not in my comfort zone.
Not even in people.
We will continue to feel our small relationship roots change as time adjusts the circumstances of our lives. However, when we are “rooted and grounded in Him,” no matter where we go, we never need to feel uprooted again.
Question to consider: What has your Global Woman life taught you about roots?