to build and to plant.”--Jeremiah 1:10(NKJV)
Consider a natural example. We live in New Jersey, the "Garden State". Near our home is a very popular farm market. In the Autumn, this farm offers hayrides as well as apple and pumpkin picking. It's a fun time for all--corn mazes, warm apple cider, cider donuts, face painting, and music. Families leave with bags of freshly picked apples and pumpkins by wagon loads. Soon, the Fall festivities are over; all the apples and pumpkins have been picked. The fields that were vibrant and full of activity are now desolate and quiet. The season is over; the trees are bare and the ground becomes hard and cold. But, are the apple trees still apple trees? Of course. Why? The fruit has been picked and the shoots/limbs have been pruned and cut, but the roots remain intact. Unless we remove the roots of the apple tree, it will begin to blossom, flourish, grow, and bear fruit again. So is the case in our lives. Unless we get to the root of our issue, habit, or hang-up it will remain in our lives.
One of the challenges we see so often is that of people endeavoring to remove a fruit or cut back a shoot in their lives, erroneously believing it is the root. Take procrastination, for example. One may know that this is a problematic area in his/her life and there may be great effort to become more organized and task oriented. This person may purchase day planner, set reminders on a phone or device, and even have a "To-Do" list. Great effort is taken to make positive changes. Yet, invariably procrastination creeps back, and along with it comes guilt, shame, frustration, and embarrassment. Why? Procrastination is not a root, it's a fruit. Perhaps its shoot is disappointment. Perhaps the root is rejection. If we do not identify the root of rejection, the fruit of procrastination will continue to abound. Allow me to illustrate the point:
A young man with terrible academic struggles throughout his school career, has a teacher who is committed to his academic success. In time, this student's grades began to improve and his confidence in his academic ability grows. For the first time, he receives an A in one of his classes. He excitedly and proudly shows his report card to his father. His moment of joy was abruptly halted when his father snatches the report card out of his hand and coldly says, "It's about time!" Ouch, right? Unbeknownst to the father, his words were like seeds in his son's heart. Soon, a root of rejection grows and begins to bear fruit in that young student's life. Harsh and insensitive words cultivated the ground of his heart; a shoot of disappointment ("My hard work went unrecognized") and fruit of procrastination ("Why bother or put forth effort?") would soon follow.
Yet, there is good news today. Even in our deepest rooted hurts, Jesus in His love, compassion, and care gives us the capacity to identify the roots in our lives and courageously pull them up. Consider Gideon in Judges 6. At the root, Gideon identified himself as poor and inferior. This produced a shoot of fear and fruits of deception and hiding (from the Midianites). But, God called him a mighty man of valor! Gideon received that word and went on to become a judge and a warrior!
We are no different from Gideon and God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). What he did in Gideon's life, he will do in ours when we are vulnerable, transparent, and open before him. When we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the roots in our lives, we have embarked on a path to the victorious, zoe life that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10.
Father, in the name of Jesus, I confess that there are fruits and shoots in my life. I pray that you would reveal the root. I believe that it is your desire that I live a full, abundant life. I thank you for your supernatural peace that passes all understanding as you give me the grace to do the hard work in removing roots from my heart--roots of rejection, abandonment, fear, and bitterness. I thank you for replacing them with your joy, love, acceptance. Thank you for a healing work in my heart. Amen and so be it according to your word.