A man is not established by wickedness, But the root of the righteous cannot be moved. Proverbs 12:3 NKJV
Or more literally:
A son of earth shall not be established by lawlessness, but the root of the righteous shall not be disturbed. Proverbs 12:3 Rotherham
Or more loosely:
You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm. Proverbs 12:3 MSG
Roots. It’s hard to move very far from metaphors in the kingdom that revolve around planting, growing, and fruitfulness. Jesus’ parable of the sower in Luke 8 likened the soil into which the seed was planted to the condition of our hearts in receiving his word, or any truth. Here, Solomon likens stability, peace, longevity, and even succession to a root. The way something grows, thrives, and the fruit it yields reflects a complicated ecosystem where nourishment, water, sun, heat, soil condition, and even the plant community in which it is planted have a bearing on success. Fruitfulness does not lie.
Foundations are important. People have an intrinsic need for stability and being established, or literally “standing erect or to be fixed, prepared, provided for…” When looking at a plant, it’s natural to focus on what its appearance, it’s beauty, and the fruitfulness it yields. Yet what is below ground and unseen is just as just as important. Just like the liver and intestines don’t look very pretty and are understandably hidden, so are the gnarly, far-reaching, spider web-looking roots. The seen and unseen are just as necessary for success. Roots literally ground the tree. They spread out seeking water and nourishment. And in the very act of identifying sources of vitality and life comes an underground support system that physically balances what is happening above ground. It’s no small coincidence that the biggest, most beautiful and fruitful trees and plants have well established roots. As a new believer I wanted maturity — and I wanted it now! I wanted to yield the same fruit as those I considered my mentors and models. Yet “now” was impossible. Maturity needs time.
As a side note, while I was contemplating a plant’s underground support system, it made me wonder about how communities of plants support each other. Although the idea has been around for a while that plants can hear and communicate, scientists are finding more evidence that in fact, this is happening. In 2013 Wired magazine published an article about a 1983 study that was originally discredited for a number of reasons, but now has new supporting evidence:
Two studies published in 1983 demonstrated that willow trees, poplars and sugar maples can warn each other about insect attacks: Intact, undamaged trees near ones that are infested with hungry bugs begin pumping out bug-repelling chemicals to ward off attack. They somehow know what their neighbors are experiencing, and react to it. The mind-bending implication was that brainless trees could send, receive and interpret messages. Wired Magazine, 12.20.2013
More on this may also be found in the Guardian.
Whether plant or human, getting the right balance for growth is not rocket science. It’s easy to tell when I am thriving and blooming, or when I’m not. One thing is certain, lawlessness or ignoring the rules and facts does not work. As depressing as it is to list, those who walk away from kingdom structure — suffer, whither, are cast aside for lack of value, and have no seed to offer or support to give. In a nutshell (no pun intended) they are not established. Memory of them is poof! gone.
But as a believer my roots, my source, are the rivers of life flowing from God’s Spirit. He’s providing me constant nourishment from an invisible place. It’s embedded in heaven. And the meal that flows to me daily is love, mixed with grace, possibility, hope, and a perspective that I could not create on my own. Going down is just as important as going up. From this root springs my person, that looks like any other person really, but is fundamentally different. I am a son of heaven, a son of God. And my root goes deep. The very promises and assurances that my Father gave to Adam, to Abraham, to Moses, the motley group of disciples, the adulterous woman, and everyone who believes are now mine.
I, Jesus… am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. Revelation 22:16 NKJV