Self-sufficiency comes in a rich tapestry of presentations. Boasting its most obvious anthem of “notice what I did!” However, its tiring demand of “I must keep doing” can cloak a more insidious and suffocating form of self-idolarity.
It is most easily identified by that uncomfortable, vulnerable feeling one gets when they discover life is stripped away; like a naked branch. No leaves. No fruit. Just a bare branch hanging on, begging for its unsightliness to be pruned away.
We get enamored with the fruit, don’t we? Especially when it’s “our own.” It’s easy to get preoccupied with plucking the low-hanging fruit of accomplishments and man’s praise allowing the source of the tree’s robustness to go unnoticed.
This happened to us. For years we’ve had a plum, peach, and apricot tree that have borne us good fruit. Naturally, we thought we were good fruit gardeners. However, this year’s harvest was pitiful. Not one plum or peach could be found worthy of harvest. And the apricots, well they were rather comical. They bloomed and blossomed and bore just the teeny, tiniest fruit you have ever seen. I ate one and felt like a giant, nibbling tenderly, barely able to get traction in its depression-era rations. In fact, the tree was literally depressed. After a consult, it was explained to me that the trees were under-watered. The neglected roots had compromised the flourishing of the tree’s life.
I’m not much different. Maybe you’re not either. I suspect you’re not. It’s a human condition to fix our eyes on what is seen. To present ourselves real pretty, no matter how unhealthy the underlying conditions may be. Not a one of us exists who isn’t naturally inclined to pride–to the belief that all that matters is what people can see.
Yet the real source of life, according to the Scriptures, is Christ. In Him alone is there abundance and the flourishing of life. As believers in Christ Jesus, we have been grafted into the a tree that receives its sustenance from the eternal Godhead. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you do nothing” John 15:5. Romans 11 tells us that from this divine source flows support–we are supported by the unfailing promise of God’s faithfulness. As He kept His covenant of love with His people in ages past, He will keep His promise of love for us today and for every.single.tomorrow. He won’t do it because of anything we do or don’t do. He will do it because He can’t help but be who He is. There is no room for self-sufficiency of any hue–only for thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for God’s kindness, mercy, and love for us…and for all.
Have you taken time to examine the root of your tree? Don’t get fooled, or “wise in your own estimation,” no success…no failure…no law-keeping…no law-breaking….no, nothing at all will bring you the joy, contentment, and abundance of life that only Christ can give. “Remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you” Romans 11:18. It’s not you! You are free from having to find the next thing to do to feel valuable, loved, or worthy. You are free from having that thing you did hanging over your head. All that needed to be done, has been done by Christ.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” ~Romans 11:33-36
Let this truth rain on your storm-beaten, naked, vulnerable branch today. You are safe. You will not break. You will bear fruit again one day. Abide, little branch, simply abide.
I really needed to hear this today. Do you?
If you want to continue “remembering the roots,” I encourage you to jump on over to Internet Cafe Devotions where you can read the Word Filled Wednesday thoughts of others about this verse.