“Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.”    – Colossians 2:7

While driving through the neighborhood on this chilly December morning, I saw a man with a landscaping company planting a new tree.  The scene didn’t seem to make sense.  One would think the best time to plant a tree is in the spring when it’s warm, plants are budding and sprouting, and spring showers water the earth.  However, for many trees, the best time for transplanting is at the end of fall/early winter.  You see, it’s during the winter season that roots become stronger and grow deeper into the soil.

It was exactly this time last year that I learned about this very thing.  We were discarding a used washer and dryer set and wanted to give it away to someone who really needed it.  God led our paths to cross with a wonderful single mom who was getting ready to move into her first home.  She’d spent all of her youth and and young adult years living at home to care for her ailing parents.  Now it was time to venture out on her own with her children and finances were a concern.  Having a free washer and dryer would be a huge help for her!  She came with her brother in a U-Haul truck.  They didn’t plan to stay, but the truck broke down at the foot of our driveway.  The young man did everything he could to get the truck started, but to no avail.  It was cold and they had a baby with them, so we retreated inside to get warm and call for mechanical assistance. 

It was Christmas time so I took them through the decorated rooms of the house.  The baby was fascinated by all the Christmas lights and shiny decorations.  It was nice having guests to entertain at Christmas, especially on such a cold day.  While waiting for assistance to arrive, we talked and got acquainted. They were church-going folks and strong in faith.   They started telling me about the sermon they’d heard the past Sunday.  It was about how the winter seems cold and bleak, even depressing to some, but it’s actually a time for growth and renewal.  A time for roots to strenghthen and grow deeper.  So when we approach the ‘winter times’ in our lives, we need to make the most of them and be encouraged knowing that God  will use that time to strengthen our roots and make us better able to make the most of the springtime ahead.  When they finished sharing the sermon with me, they apologized for having gone on about it.  No apologies were needed!  It was just what I needed to hear!

Our church was going through a very rough time.  My heart was breaking because of all the troubles and turmoil unfolding within our congregation.  The message they shared was God speaking through them to encourage me about the seemingly desparate time our church was having.  My heart was lifted and I felt a renewed sense of hope.

That God of ours.  Isn’t He just something else?  Here I’d been giving thanks that we could bless someone in need and, not just anyone, but someone He’d led to us, but it ended up that they were a blessing to me!  Thank You, Lord!

How perfect it was to be reminded of them this morning when I saw that man planting a tree.  A year later our church is restored.  The winter time the church endured did, indeed, strengthen its roots and help them grow deeper.  Those entrenched roots allowed the church to weather that storm.  Tho’ we swayed and bent, we did not break!  Now the winter is past (metaphorically speaking).  Sunny days and fair winds prevail.  Praise the Lord!

Oh, and about that truck that wouldn’t start…Assistance never arrived.  As soon as we’d had the time God wanted us to have together sharing in faith, the young man went back to the truck and – you guessed it – it started!  I’m hearing the words from a popular praise song, “God is in control…”  Praise be to our God! 

“And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him.  May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.”     – Ephesians 3:17-18