On January 1, 2018, I shared that Dan and I had chosen “rooted” as our word for the year. I remember being so excited for our word. Excited for a year to read and learn. I had a long list of books that I wanted to tackle and I wanted to try different ways to study the word. I shared the definition of the word “rooted” is “to establish deeply and firmly”. I also shared 1 Peter 5:8-9. It says:
Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.]
A few days ago, when I started to think about all God had done through the word, I went back to the original blog I wrote to share why we choose the word. (The Year We’re Rooting For). As I read the words, I had to laugh at what I wrote at the end of my post:
“However, if there is one thing I have learned about the “word of the year”, it’s that most of the time, what I think God is going to do through the word of the year isn’t exactly what He has planned. No matter what is around the corner, I am so excited to see God carry Dan and I through the year.”
God did just that! “Unexpected” is a perfect way to describe 2018. Not only did I get a rare medical diagnosis (God is NOT a Jerk), I also had many close friends walk through unexpected situations. One friend heard the words “cancer”. A childhood friend passed away. Sweet friends lost babies. Over and over again, I watched friends struggle, receive bad news and endure hard seasons. However, I also watched God show up, provide for and carry Dan, myself and our friends and family over and over again. This year was a hard year, but it was also a year of healing! (No Evidence of Disease)
I recently learned quite a bit about walnut trees. When a walnut seed is planted in good soil, it can grow very quickly. In fact, most seedlings can grow up to 3 to 4 feet in one year. Walnut trees can grow to be over 60 feet tall with canopies that are 70 feet wide at full maturity. Estimates on the root depth and length vary, but most arborists agree that mature walnut trees can have roots extend out from the trunk up to four times the height of the tree.
We all know the roots of a tree are very important. The roots are how a tree gets moisture and minerals to grow strong and healthy. The roots also keep a tree firmly in place. However, the roots of a walnut tree do something else. The walnut tree’s roots exude a natural herbicide that inhibit many plant’s growth. The more I researched, the more I learned. There are very few plants that can grow near a walnut tree because of this chemical. Walnut trees can grow near each other (over 430 trees an acre), but very few other plants can grow with those trees. Simply, removing the walnut trees will not alleviate the problem either as the chemical will still be in the root systems for many years, and it is impossible to remove all of the roots.
Friends, I am not sure if you are seeing the sweet message here. First, our hearts need good soil. We cannot grow if we do not tend to our soil. (What the Sower Taught Me) If the gardens of our hearts are filled with bitterness and unbelief, we cannot grow roots. However, if the gardens of our hearts are filled with good soil, we can grow quickly.
Strong roots keep our hearts nourished and flourishing when life is going well. Those same roots keep us grounded during the storms of life. When we have strong roots, they help us recognize the lies that are trying to take root around us.
This year felt like a lot of storms. A rare diagnosis that neither of us understood was scary. However, because we had worked to grow strong roots in truth, we didn’t feel like we were going to be overtaken. We were able to recognize the lies that were trying to sneak in, and make sure they didn’t take root.
That’s not where the analogy of the walnut tree ends. The strong roots of a walnut tree, keep affecting the soil it was planted in, long after it was removed. The roots Dan and I are planting now are changing generations. It makes me tear up thinking of the legacy this summer has created.
Here’s the thing, this year was really tough, but God was so good to us. The word rooted encouraged us to dig deeper into the word. When the storms came, I knew were to find my hope. When lies tried to sneak in, I knew how to combat them. I know that the choices we made this year are long lasting. One day, we will have children that will walk through hard times and we will be able to tell them all about the year that God healed me of a rare disease.
Our focus on roots this year, has also been seen in the day to day things that are less scary. In early December, I had some “normal” checkups, and the doctor advised I have some further testing. After the year we have had, he wanted to double check a few things. So last week, I went to have those tests ran. As I sat in the waiting room, I realized I had never sat in a waiting room before with so much peace. I was expectant that the tests wouldn’t show anything. I know God’s heart is healing, and He has started a huge work in my body. However, I knew in the depths of my heart, that even if the tests did show something, I would be absolutely okay.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says this in the English Standard Version:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
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.”
As 2018 comes to a close, I can’t help but be grateful. Nothing that happened this year was a surprise to God. I am grateful that He put the word “rooted” on our heart. Today, I can tell you that we have grown deeper roots, and we are not fearful of what tomorrow holds. Our prayer is that we can continue to bear fruit as we face whatever comes. Your legacy can start today.