It may surprise you to know that I spent many months, when I was younger, gardening. I know, I’m not exactly what you’d consider when you think of someone doing manual work. I’d like to paint an image of a tanned and muscular self toiling under the midday sun but to be honest I looked pretty much the same, it rained a lot and I sneezed even more. Anyway, one thing you learn very quickly when you’re doing any gardening is that the more impressive the plant, the harder it is to dig out. This is because growth is bi-directional. While the part that we all see flourishes towards the light, the roots are becoming more and more planted.
“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
– Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)
If we want our lives to flourish and to grow towards Jesus then we need to be firmly rooted. Look at the parable of the sower: the depth of your root has a big effect on how your faith grows. I like to look at it like this: all of the good things that grow in your life as you grow in Jesus are the result of the everyday things you’re doing to root your life in the kingdom. The amazing fruits that people should see in our lives are the results of a lifestyle rooted firmly in His house.
We can’t expect to flourish in our lives if we don’t plant ourselves. There is a difference between attending the house of God and being planted within it. It’s possible to spend years in a church and yet not be planted within it; God doesn’t call us to a life of passive Christianity, He calls us to a proactive walk with Him. Sure we can go to church, sit around for a while, clap at the right moments, then go home. Lather, rinse, repeat. We can do that and yet if we don’t take steps to plant ourselves in the House of God then we won’t flourish in the Christian life.
So how do we get planted in the House of God? We get involved. We bring God and His church into our everyday so that He is part of everything we do. We plant ourselves in the house of God by becoming an active part in the life of our churches. Most churches today have small group meetings, and they’re a great way of getting planted. You can’t be part of the crowd when there are only a few of you, when there are a few of you everyone is active and everyone is a part of what happens. Everyone gets opportunity to encourage and everyone gets to be encouraged. You’re part of the community. As you attend a small group regularly you find that church community comes to mean more than just people you nod at on a Sunday and relationships are built.
We become planted when we serve. There is little that speaks more of being planted in a place than the desire to serve there. Your church should have ways that you can serve because in doing so it gives you the opportunity to work for kingdom purpose at whatever level you can meet. I love seeing the way this outworks in the church I attend, there is something particularly special about seeing big groups of people gather to volunteer their time and talents for a common purpose and the potential that is unlocked when they do so is huge. Serving in church is a natural extension of a heart that values the house of God, we are willing to put in effort for things that we value.
The sign of a well planted life is that it’s hard to uproot. I’m not a believer in the theory that life will always be easy, I think that’s unrealistic and flaky. Sometimes life actually sucks. But you know what? If you’re planted in the house of God then if life brings you to your knees, you’ll find that the people in the house are there picking you up again, and you will find that when you turn round in what you feel is your worst moment, Jesus is there with you in the form of His servants.
The promise of that verse in Psalms is that those who are planted will flourish and will bear fruit even when they’re old. Being planted isn’t just about the short term, it’s about our whole lives. God plans for us a life that bears fruit and flourishes and a key to receiving that promise is to be deep rooted in His house.