Photo Credit: Drew West
I am finally wrapping up my time in the U.S., and my sweet husband, Drew, has been busy at work this past month while we have been apart. He has enjoyed creating things to make our house more beautiful, including this little planter picture above to display our new plant collection in Zambia. Not only is it cute, but it also helps our plants get the optimal amount of sunlight, and it also helps protect them from being washed away in the tropical rainy season. Drew has always had a love for plants, and I am counting on some deliciously fresh herbs that will enhance the beauty and character of our yard, and also increase the deliciousness on our plates!
I just finished an amazing time of gathering with other people that work for my organization in the U.S., Canada, and/or around the world in one of the 58 countries where we have offices. I mentioned in my post last week about how beautiful it was to witness the unity of the body of Christ through this organization, and now as I am reflecting on all that we learned, one of the ideas I will take with me is the importance of planting roots.
My generation is quite infamous for having few attachments. We are known for following our interests in the moment, and as our interests change, our location and job may change too. We’re not attached to a certain career or city if it’s not serving our needs. A few generations before, many would have been happy to work for the same company their entire career, but our generation is known for career change and spontaneity. However, though it may be positive that we are not afraid of change and seek authenticity and personal fulfillment, this attitude may bring about a lack of desire to build roots somewhere. Many would value zero attachments to anything.
Even in my own journey, I have been through 4 jobs and 6 homes in the past 3 years, and I feel quite normal. My husband Drew and I moved to Zambia last year, and though he entered a four-year program, I told everyone as we left that we would take it one year at a time. Now that a year has gone by, we are ready to say that we would like to be here at least the next 3 years, but I still find myself dreaming and longing to know what comes next. Where will we go? What will we do? How is life going to look after we get through where we are right now?
Conversely, I feel God calling me back to focus more on where I am now, drawing me to not only dream about what is to come, but to find places that I can establish roots. No matter how long I find myself in any one place, will I ever regret investing where I am? That’s the cool thing about roots, they must go deep enough in the beginning so that the plant will survive if and when it goes to a new home. Roots are important and give life in the moment, but they are also transferable. I know the feeling of hesitation to strive for deep friendships in new a place that has a definite end date quickly approaching, but I have to remind myself that meaningful friendships can blossom in both short and long seasons.
Heck, after spending a week and a half with people during training this past week, I am so thankful to have shared life with about 23 other people whose lives are rich, powerful and inspiring. One of my new friends I met this week reminded me of one of the most beautiful biblical stories of a woman who had very deep roots. Though life brought much heartache, many trials and transitions, God rewarded her roots. Through her faithfulness in each season, He displays His unending faithfulness throughout all generations.
The story of Ruth begins with an Israelite family that has to leave their own home to escape a famine and build roots in the land of Moab. The two sons end up marrying women in this new land, and evntually all the men in the family die and the women are left to mourn their losses together.
“Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” Ruth 1:14
These women built roots with one another. One woman felt the call to leave, and built a new life somewhere else. The other woman built her roots even deeper around her mother-in-law and the story continues,
“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16
And so Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, made a new home together in the land of Naomi’s people. Their roots grow deeper with one another and in their new community as they find a way to survive and God honors their faithfulness. This is where Bible story meets juicy love story! Ruth and Boaz, one of Naomi’s honorable relatives, find one another and Boaz is amazed at Ruth’s faithfulness,
“But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother in law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’” Ruth 2:11
Spoiler alert: Ruth and Boaz end up getting married, and their son becomes one of the most beloved kings of Israel, David, a man after God’s own heart. What a gorgeous and romantic story of God redeeming His people, and we know that He continues to do so today. Where has He called your to plant roots today? Or are you working up the courage to be uprooted and start somewhere new?
He who has called us is faithful, may we live faithfully rooted in Him. Let us participate in the story He has called us to live out this day, and fight the temptation to be shallow and temporary. May the Lord guide us and deepen our roots.