What's Next for Home Missions?
Roots: How Deep Must They Go to Weather the Storm?
by Joanna Felts
What happens when we look into the storm and can’t feel our roots or see the fruit that should be the product of roots grown deep and years of growth and ministry?
In Psalm 27, David wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation...of whom shall I be afraid?” And why should we be afraid? God has promised to be with us, to be our rock, our fortress, our comfort in times of trouble. Yet, when the storm is raging and we can’t feel the roots or see the limbs, we still face the age-old question.
Going Below the Surface
I’ve asked myself many times over the past few years where I would be spiritually if my roots had not been cultivated and nourished in years prior. If I had never seen any fruit from my growth and ministry, I would have become discouraged and questioned my faith even more deeply than I have already done. The depression that caused me to sit and stare at walls and cry for months on end would have completely overwhelmed me. The complete and total lack of ability to carry on my ministry for several months would have turned into years.
A deeply rooted tree nourished by years of rain and care and sunlight grows well and strong. But when drought comes, growth slows and anything extra drops away; branches that were weak may die or be stunted while the tree puts itself in a protective mode. The tree may not do its best growing during that time; but because of its well-watered and well-lit heritage, it holds on until the rain comes again.
Deep roots are a product of not just one discipline in our lives but of many. Do we spend time in the Word? Do we spend time praying? Do we spend time with God’s people around His Word? These are the questions each of us asks when we talk about growing deep and growing strong. The problem is, these are only the surface questions.
What do the answers reveal about us? “Yes, I spent time in the Word this morning, but I didn’t reflect on it at all during my day.”
“No, I didn’t remember to pray without ceasing.”
“No, I avoided an encounter with my Christian friend because I didn’t want her to ask me any hard questions.”
It’s not just about what we do on the surface. We are bombarded every day with all kinds of media. If I remembered everything I saw, read, or heard during each day, my headaches would be more frequent and nauseating. So I’ve learned to filter. But am I filtering the right things? Do I let God’s Word permeate, or do I treat it as one of those media messages I can ignore? Spending time in God’s Word means when we get up from the time spent there, we take what we heard, learned, and read with us. We meditate on it, memorize it, and plant it within our hearts.
Praying about a situation means that we continue in prayer and intercession about the circumstance that led us to pray in the beginning. We pray without ceasing. We persist boldly at the throne of grace, humbly pleading with God to intercede on our behalf and in the lives of those around us. This doesn’t indicate a lack of faith but an authentic faith.
This is the kind of faith that knows the God to whom we are praying can and will answer prayer. Yes, we give the burden over, but we keep praying.
The Fellowship Factor
Study and fellowship with other Christians shows we understand that God has put people in our lives for a reason. They speak into our lives in a way that is meaningful, and yes, sometimes even a little annoying. But these people draw our eyes to God who is our fortress, our tower, and our strength.
Are my roots deep enough? No, they definitely are not. I am still learning this from experience. Roots are never deep enough to stop doing nurturing them. Satan doesn’t intend to stop throwing things at us until we stop trying to resist, and he wins. In these times of our lives, the question is not, “Are my roots growing as fast and as strong as they have in the past?” but “Are my roots still growing at all?”
And so we read further in Psalm 27: “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, lord, will I seek.” We continue to study—more deeply than before because we are still in the storm, meditating, fighting the temptation to walk away from God’s Word. We continue in prayer—interceding and coming boldly before God with “groanings” that cannot be expressed in words, in addition to the needs and desires we do know how to put into words. And we continue in fellowship around God’s Word—letting others speak into our lives because He is with them also.
God is pleading with us, “Come, talk with me; spend time with ne; hear my Word; listen to ny voice; seek my face.” Can we say, “Yes Lord, I am coming; I will seek Your face?”
About the Writer: Joanna Felts leads California Women Active for Christ. Learn more about WNAC at www.wnac.org.