Something in my chest today kept me quiet. The wind blew steadily through the azaleas and the oaks and the not-yet-green crepe myrtles, moving branches and leaves, sending bees scurrying. The old white steeple stood high peeking from behind the pink flowers. It was balmy and a little overcast – and extraordinarily beautiful. I’ve been there before, of course. My Paw-Paw is buried there. He went to be with Jesus when I was 9. We went a few times after that, and I always remember how green it was. Maybe that’s partially because I knew the town was actually called Evergreen – I don’t really know. Regardless, I remember it as abundant and lush. And going back as an adult, I can tell you that it did not disappoint. I can, in fact, tell you that it took my breath away.
I feel very nearly on the verge of tears typing this out, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. There is something so deeply magical about deep roots. Family lines full of good people with good hearts and good stories – mess-ups and mistakes, to be sure – but mostly good and mostly people who followed Jesus with their lives the best way they knew how. Every time I pause to remember this, I find myself a little choked up, overwhelmed with gratitude and something that really does feel very much like I imagine magic would – pricking and warming, whispering old stories and new. Because I know what a rare and unusual thing it is to have such deep, grounding, good, healthy roots. Again I say, flawed of course, lest you think I am riding my high horse.
It makes me consider all those names listed in the Bible – the ones I just skip over because for-the-love-of-all-the-land, must I try to sound ANOTHER one out? It makes me think about how each of those names represented a whole life – lived either well or poorly, and how that life influenced the one after that and the one after that and the one after that – among all the ones that it influenced as they walked alongside one another.
In my world, family is a big, big deal. It always has been, and I am so glad about that.
But I want to say something to all of you that maybe feel like your roots don’t run deep or if they do, they’re not healthy and nourishing. I want to say something to those of us who think that our roots are the best roots. I want you to hear that Jesus gives us new roots. That He specifically says that the people who decide to follow Him, they are His true mother and brother and cousin. And if we are adopted into the family of Christ, it must follow that we now share in His lineage! What a gift, y’all. What roots we have! Abraham and Moses and Rahab and David and Peter and Paul and Timothy and Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis and my Paw Paw and the person who led you to Christ. What an amazing, incredible gift – new roots, wider roots, deeper roots. Roots of faith and returning when you leave and of saying what you mean and of praying enormous prayers and of making mission fields out of every piece of ground you stand on and of hanging on when everything says to let go. Good, healthy, rich roots.
Friends, this is no small thing. And it overwhelms me that God grafts us in – that whether our earthly roots are solid and grounding and good or not is really of no consequence in His kingdom, because when we say, “Yes,” to Him, we get new, immovable, sustaining veins that steady us as we grow up, up, up toward the God who planted us in the first place.
We are held steady by up-from-the-grave roots, friends. Let’s be grateful for that gift!