Monday, October 19, 2015

Roots and Retakes

image used under Public Domain license,
from the Public Health Image Library
That title came from a BBM conversation with my friend Jake.  Jake is involved in the music at his church and had been helping with recording an album, after pulling roots in the garden,  He was talking about his fingers and hands being sore from gardening, then playing music.  At which point, that title popped into my head.

I'm not a gardener, so I'm not sure if the young lady in our illustration is doing the same thing Jake was, that day.  But keeping a garden looking good and growing well requires some effort.  And that came to mind as I was thinking about that title.

When we think of that and, in particular roots in a Biblical discussion, we have to start with the harsh realities of the climate of those locales.  It's dry desert..  So, plants may or may not bloom, but they have roots.  Deep roots.  That's essential to the survival of the plants.  The deeper the root, the more likely it reaches a source of water.  And, if nothing else, the longer the root, the more surface there is to absorb any available water.  That got me thinking about some important spiritual principals.

1 Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 

We all know that verse and usually leave it at the love of money.  Some even stopping at money. But, yes, it's the love of money.  Although that's a hindrance to our relationship with God, it's an example of a deeper issue.  If we let anything get in the way, it has the potential of taking over.

Jake weeds his garden so the things he doesn't want growing there are removed.  If he doesn't root them out, they have the likelihood of taking over and choking out the things he does want there. That's a principle of nature.  It's a spiritual law, as well.  

Mark 4:19  And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 

If we allow the wrong things to get into our soul and they aren't dealt with, they can outgrow the things that ought to be there and choke our spiritual life to death.  So, we need to be good spiritual gardening tools, periodically weeding out sin and any distractions, feeding the things that grow our walk with God.

We said that, in the environment where the Bible was written, that it was important for plants to have deep roots in order to survive.  So, how about this verse?:

Isaiah 27:6  He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. 

That's quite a promise.  And it highlights a spiritual reality.  Whether we take that to be the physical ancestors of Jacob or those spiritually connected to him through Christ, it's not their efforts that count, but God's grace and mercy functioning in their lives to allow that fruit.  What happens is that deep spiritual roots allow blossoming and fruit bearing.  But we're never our own gardeners, as much as we may think we are.  When we realize that, it eliminates pride in that area and it takes the pressure off us to do something we never could, anyway.  Think about a New Testament example.

Ephesians 3:17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 

If we go back a couple of verses, Paul says he prays for this to happen.  First of all, it's God prompting him to pray.  Then it's God fulfilling the prayer.  Seeking their salvation, working out their being discipled.  It says "being rooted and grounded in love,".  That's God's love, toward us then through us.  

"Being rooted and grounded" is an interesting phrase.  We need deep roots in God to gain the right nutrition and watering.  But there's more.  Remember all those old western movies we saw, with the dust or sand storms?  There's the tumbleweed we see blowing around, but that's already dead.  If the film makers are accurate, there will be some smaller, more flexible plants blowing around, too. In real life, those are plants that are still barely alive, but the roots didn't hold them onto the ground. Short roots don't get as much water and nutrients.  And, in a storm, they're either too weak not to break or too short to anchor the plant.  That's one heck of a spiritual image, isn't it?

Then there's the second part of our title.  The retakes.  With music, whether it's recording or rehearsal, there's always someone getting some part or note wrong, initially.  That requires repetition to get it right.  Sometimes it's once more, other times, it'll be multiple times.  I've had that with blogging and writing.  And we can all point to things in our lives where that's been the case.

1 John 1:8-9  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We're imperfect beings, courtesy of the decisions Adam and Eve made.  And, what's worse is that we feed our imperfection through our own tendencies to live in the inherited weaknesses.  That passage in 1 John says we have short roots and we can deceive ourselves into believing we're anchored in righteousness, despite that.  Then, it tells us something really important about our relationship with God.

The passage says that if we confess our sinfulness, God will forgive us and that combination of actions makes us righteous, again.  The police want crime confessions, with the criminal telling the police of their crimes.  Some churches insist on telling another person of our sins.  But that's not what this verse is about.  There certainly isn't any man, woman or child on this planet, at the moment, who has the power to forgive sins.  And we really don't need to tell God.  He's omniscient, so He knows all our sins.  What we're talking about, in good King James English, is being in agreement with God about our performance.

The gist of 1 John 1:9 is our title's retakes.  Yes, there are instances where we need to go to the person we've sinned against.  But that's mentioned elsewhere and deals with specific instances. What we're looking at here is agreeing with God, on a consistent basis.  Although it's not stated here, there are good reasons for that.
  1. Since God already knows our state, then it allows us to see the depth of our depravity.
  2. Recognizing our sinfulness allows us to realize the enormity of the grace and mercy that God bestows upon us
  3. Honest awareness of our true sinfulness has to lead us to remorsefulness.
  4. That remorse prepares us for repentance, each time.  Repentance isn't just a one time thing, at salvation.  Is repetitive, for the rest of our earthly lives.  And it's a state of mind that will keep us agreeing with God.
So, we want our roots going deep with God to get all we can to enhance our relationship with Him. And so we're anchored to him, not blowing around in any wind of understanding.  We're open to spiritual "do overs", our retakes.  Our confession, remorse, and repentance brings us God's grace, mercy and forgiveness.  And, with the right spiritual attitudes, we grow closer to God.  So, how are your roots and retakes, today?

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