Friday, March 22, 2013

Diggin' Up Roots and Growin' Fruits

Hello, my name is Regret.
I'm pretty sure we have met.
Every single day of your life,
I'm the whisper inside that won't let you forget.

Hello, my name is Defeat.
I know you recognize me.
Just when you think you can win,
I'll drag you right back down again till you've lost all belief.

These are the voices.
These are the lies.
That I have believed in,
For the very last time.

Hello, My Name is Child of the One True King.
I've been saved.
I've been changed.
I've been set free.

These are the lyrics to Matthew West's new song. I don't know if West wrote those last 3 lines on purpose to describe the progression of a Christian's walk, but it really hit the nail on the head for me.  Many of us comes to know we are saved.  We know the Lord is making us different than we used to be.  But the last line is where I believe so many of us get tripped up.

We are freed from the enslavement of being in the dark, from the past we used to call home.  But we still have problems moving into the mansion called "the future" God has prepared for us.  We remain stuck in the patterns of thought, word and deed that defined us before Jesus.  We have yet to embrace the meaning of all that change and how we don't have to live like we used to.

We are made new, we just forget to act like it. 

Or maybe we don't know we live under new management.  We don't realize our status as adopted Children of the One True King comes with all manner of rights and privileges.  We end up sticking with what we know, propagating the same old habits; leaving our minds un-renewed.

This post is along the same lines as last week's.  In the same vein as correction, I've gone deeper to try and understand this issue - the one Jesus talks about in Luke 4:

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.

The prisoners Jesus came to set free?  You and me.  He came to set us free from spiritual, emotional or physical bondage (or all 3).  When we join His team, He releases those ties; correcting our thinking about God along the way.  It's a process of realizing we've been letting certain things from the old "us" fester.  The Lord, in His mercy, doesn't want His children festering.  He wants them thriving.

It takes work, I tell you what.  It takes a lot of pruning.  But most of all, it takes a humble, teachable spirit.

Perhaps because it's spring and I've seen way too many Home Depot commercials; I've been thinking about roots and the fruits they produce.  There are the two simple equations, spiritually speaking, that sum up this whole post:

Bad Roots = Bad Fruits
Good Roots = Good Fruits

Jesus said as much in Matthew 12:34. 

We start with the bad news.  Bad roots result from deep wounds: someone hurts us (a lot of times when we are young) and we internalize those feelings.  We plant the seeds of:

Lack of Love

When we let those seeds remain in our hearts, we give them the ability to take root.  We let these wounds call us by name.  We leave them alone or (worse) justify them because we don't know another way.  So they (pardon the pun) grow like weeds.  The enemy uses them as fertile ground to cause chaos in our minds and hearts.  It leads up to a lot of bad fruit: jealousy, anger, addiction, pride, perfectionism, depression, overachieving, lust, rebellious living, envy, gossip, insecurity, out of control guilt, greed, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc.

Bad roots lead to distracted living.  We can't find our purpose and meaning when we have all this unresolved, corrupt fruit laying around.

As we grow in the Lord, He reveals these roots and fruit for what they are. He saves and changes us.  Yet to move into freedom, we have to grow past the ingrained patterns we adopted as a result of the rotten core.  We might be free, but we keep showing up to court to defend ourselves.  When the enemy comes in his cheap three-piece suit and hurls accusations at us, we still listen and act like convicted felons.  We forget the Just Judge long ago hammered his gavel and declared us innocent.  We can walk out at any time, but choose to stay bound by the way we've grown up to respond.

It will finally come time when the Lord provides the needed course correction.  We will stop listening to the enemy and recognize which thought and response patterns are no bueno.  We start to hunger for good fruit.  We start rebuilding our root system with good seed, which is the Word of God.  We focus on God's promises instead of Satan's lies.  We begin to live the way we were meant to, released for God and His glory.

When those good roots grow, we see the fruit of Spirit blossom.  That good fruit, as Eugene Peterson explains in the Message version of Galatians 5:22-23, is this:

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

As I said last week, it's a process.  I am reminded of a situation my husband faced in our old house.

There were two mostly-dead trees in our front yard.  Dave decided to remove them himself.  He spent all day one Saturday, morning till evening, digging up the stump and roots of the first tree.  He finally did it, but he was exhausted and sore by the end of it all. The next weekend, he tackled the second one.  Instead of all day, it took him about 30 minutes from start to finish.  The simple reason was because he learned how to do it the first time around. 

That is how it goes when the Lord is working on digging out our messy roots.  The first time He does it, it's really painful.  It makes you think twice about why you decided to let Jesus in.  It makes you realize that freedom comes with a price and you grasp how high a price it was. 

But the subsequent "diggings" aren't as bad; because you've been through it already.  You know the Lord's work is good.  You become more likely to let Him get it over with.  It still might hurt but you know the pain is worth it.  You have tasted the benefits and blessings of the good fruit.  So you go with it.

As you mature, you experience more and more good root and fruit combinations.  You become like the tree is Psalm 1, planted by living water and always in bloom.  You intimately know that the freedom given by God is much sweeter than anything you could find on your own and you want it desperately for others.  You finally get what Jesus was talking about in John 15 when said He was the vine and we are the branches. 

It's all about the root system.  Let God do His work and dig up the bad.  He will replace it with the good - He always does. 

No comments: