My wife Susan reminded me recently that our youngest daughter, Melisa, was 2 years old when we moved to Lexington. In her memory there is no other place than Lexington. Images of Northern Kentucky and even Texas have been put there by trips we take down memory lane literally and figuratively. Our son Marshall is a High School Senior at Dunbar this year and often talks about friends that he has known since Kindergarten at Rosa Parks.
It is hard for me to comprehend what 13 years in one place looks like until I think about what my kids have experienced. There is something about being in one place for an extended time. We call it putting down roots. For a guy who, in his 20’s, had 7 jobs in 8 years in 3 states (and never got fired by the way!), I didn’t think I could spell the word roots much less put any down. Yet here we are by God’s grace.
And it has changed my life for the better. Please don’t hear me saying that moving is not at times a good thing. It is quite exciting to be in new places with new experiences. But in my life, it has been rootedness that has produced the most profound fruit for us as a family as well as for me personally and as a pastor.
Being rooted allows for a depth of relationship that goes well beyond the surface. For instance, trees that have deep roots withstand great storms. They also provide an increasing amount of shade (ie. comfort) and habitat (ie. place to call home). Yes, at times it is uncomfortable because your mistakes are contained in the memory of the faces you see over and over. But it is also amazing because your joys are memorialized with these people as well.
Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline states boldly, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people .” What is needed is more people who are willing to put in the time to grow deep roots in Christ and in turn one another.
I agree with Richard Foster and have said for a while now that in the church deep takes care of wide. If we focus on growing our relationship with Christ and becoming faithful disciples, then everything will follow that the church needs to accomplish its mission (vision, wisdom, perseverance, people, financial resources).
There is no better time than the present to begin the process of rootedness if you haven’t already done so. It’s time to make a commitment to that relationship, or that job, or that church. Stop waiting for the next thing and focus on the current thing. Refuse to live in the future [or in the past for that matter] and become content with what is right in front of you. You will find that the fruit that comes from deep roots is far beyond what you can hope for or imagine.
Take it from someone who has tried it both ways…wide may be exciting…but deep is so much better.