I’m spending a lot of time in my garden at the moment – the weather has been fine and our new seating addition to the back of the house is a beautiful place to spend the morning. It’s here that I’ve spent time reading through “The Bruised Reed” by Richard Sibbes (you can read my other post here about how we are in need of God’s mercy) and yesterday I read a short and yet profound statement that made me stop and think. Here it is:
I’m watching my grape vine slowly turn brown as the autumn approaches and wondering how, in the winter, it will survive. The answer, as Sibbes would say, is in the root. Though there might not be life on the outside, and fruit will be scarce, the life of the vine is hidden deep down, underground, out of sight, in the root ready to emerge in Spring.
So as I’m thinking about that I’m also wondering how this might apply to us. Winter is coming, that we can be sure – perhaps for you, winter is already here. Days when there is not much light, assurance is faint, miracles are few, love is cold and fruit is scarce. How do we survive when spiritual winters come upon us?
Winter is necessary
Firstly know this: winter is necessary. It’s a good and needed season for us. In farming, it’s a time when the cold of winter typically eliminates many damaging insects and diseases. It’s also a time when plants energy is held in reserve, building up for new growth, and farmers can prune and transplant without fear of causing damage to the plant. Without winter, trees generate fewer, weaker buds, limiting fruit production from day one. In our own lives, spiritual winters are a good time for pruning away some old things, and for preparing the ground for a new season. The ground of our hearts and lives needs preparation every time God wants us to move into a new season. It’s a good thing to reflect on our lives from time to time, and to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas in our lives that aren’t good for us. We then need the courage to let those things which are death to us, actually be death to us. Winter is given to us not for destruction but for renewal. Now this the time to press on harder into Christ and by faith know that …
Spring is coming
Yes! Spring is coming! Jeremiah 17 says:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. [if it was spring of summer there would be no need for trust because there is fruit … trust is needed when eerything looks bleek and barren] He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
God’s desire for our lives is to be rooted and grounded in love. But we need to develop the root in good times, in Spring and summer time so that when the winds of life blow we are not shaken.
Hide life in the Root
“You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit.”
Jesus warned about shallow roots
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root
Often when I talk to people about the kind of person they want to be I will list a number of traditions, habits, and choices they need to make. These include having a daily quiet time with God so God can speak to them, attending church, connect or Life Group, listening to Christian podcasts, and reading solid books. Most of the time the response goes along these lines: “Oh, I don’t have time for all that!”. My reply is “You can give time now, in summer and prevent issues, or you can give more time later (in winter) because you have issues. You will give time. Pay now or pay later, but you will pay.” Winter is coming – how deep do your roots go? Remember, life is in the roots so go deep in your relationship with Christ
The Psalmist says
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.