The trees we planted in the yard have grown and our boys have followed suit. We don’t notice the changes as much overnight, or even season to season, but a cluster of years tells a different story. Like the pencil marks that tracked each summer stay on my Grandma Marion’s kitchen wall, the visual changes more evident over time.
The roots, they have followed me everywhere this past year, their tendrils seeking my attention. I wasn’t seeing them, but somehow I was noticing them, writing in quiet spaces about roots and trees and home all along. It’s strange isn’t it how the very thing God is trying to show us can get covered by our pain and life and still it finds the way to us? Reaching for us?
At the end of last summer, we took some family photos and our kind photographer positioned us with a strong and sturdy oak tree in the distance. She had done such a beautiful job capturing us before and we were happy to cooperate with her requests as we plopped ourselves down on a blanket. We were caught up in her cues, and the moment, and I had forgotten about the tree. I put the photo up on the wall and focused on the sweet faces of my crew.
I noticed the tree, but I didn’t really see it.
And then one morning as I wrestled mad with a season of hard things, I walked out of our front room and into the entryway and looked up at our family photo, and there it was. Like when I finally saw Jesus’ face, in the black and white picture my parents had hanging near our bunk beds. Some sort of brain-teaser that had me convinced I was faulty because everyone else could see Jesus but me. Until I squinted long enough one day and he appeared, and I told everyone of this self-proclaimed miracle. I grin at it now, but the tree stood out like Jesus in that picture—clear and illuminated—except I wasn’t searching and it was no puzzle. It was there all along, and now when I looked at our photo I saw this big tree and the story it spoke over our family—a story of legacy and generations, a story of strength and depth. I envisioned the roots making their way deep into the dark, feeling their way in the soil. The water they kept searching for in the dry, rocky dirt—the path they made to find what would bring them life.
The tree was there waiting until I had eyes to see it. God knew we would need that picture, not as some sort of brain-teaser, but to remind us of the roots we were growing—roots that took time and patience and sometimes didn’t seem to be finding their way through the dark at all. Confirmation that life and growth were taking place beneath the surface, not visible to the unaware, protected from the storms swirling, still making their way deeper.
I once read that when a plant has plenty of water its roots will stay shallow, but when water is scare the tree roots will even break through things in search of what they need. The hard and heavy things keep us from the surface and force us to find our way through what it seems there is no way through. Only when we are seeking what truly will sustain us will we grow.
Let your roots grow down into Him and let your life be built upon Him. | Colossians 2:7
We don’t always notice the roots until we need them. We emerge from the hard season understanding the depth of our roots matter. They make us unshakeable. The roots digging deep below the foundation birthed through endurance, forming heritage and legacy in our daily bread and daily graces.
We understand we aren’t defined by what is above ground, but by what is below it. The world will try its best to define us, but our identity is rooted in Christ. We say it until it sinks in and takes hold in our soul. We are strong and sturdy, still standing in the wind, face to the light, growing.