A few weeks ago I had the urge to remove six trees from around our deck so we could use the space to build a raised garden. I didn't lay out a plan beforehand; except that I wanted to finish. And the best way to get finished is to get started. So, I grabbed my saw and started cutting the trees down.
The girls helped me carry the branches to a burn pile and I cut the big branches into firewood. I had stage one nearing completion in less than 90 minutes. This was easy. All in a nights work.
The first tree wasn't that big really, so I was sure it wouldn't be too hard to dig out the stump. I figured I could just grab a shovel and a hoe, apply some manpower, and have this project knocked out by sundown.
I was wrong.
These particular trees were well rooted; some roots shooting to the left and others to the right; some had grown straight down. Each tree had a taproot buried deep below the surface and directly on the bottom on the stump. I was amazed at the strength of the root system as I cut each root until there was nothing left to hold it down. Roots are strong.
That night I was reminded that my root system has long been growing in the soil of American dreams. I started naming my roots. A root called affluence. Another called comfort. A root called individualism. Another called entitlement. A root called pleasure. Another called apathy. These roots are buried so deep below the surface. And they are strong.
These roots have been producing fruit all along -- fruit called perspective and paradigm; belief and movement. Perhaps this is the imagery Jesus has in mind when he says that you can tell how healthy a tree is by its fruit. Perhaps the fruit of my life has always revealed what kind of soil I’ve been growing in. Perhaps yours has too.
Jesus invites us to plant ourselves in a new kind of soil, where roots that make a truly healthy tree can thrive. A root called trust. Another called sacrifice. A root called community. Another called grace. A root called celebration. Another called resolve.
I want to be that tree.