Two months ago at Oakwood Forest Church we planted seeds in little pots as we explored creation and our role in looking after it. My little seeds sprouted and seemed to be doing well until this week when no amount of water could sustain the young plants.
Today I was explaining to Rachel that the plants had become root bound and it got me to thinking about God, Church, life, mission and calling.
Look at this photo of the poor root bound plant; it's desperately trying to reach out further but the container it's in constrains it, inhibits it, literally keeps it contained inside and unable to reach outside.
Do we put God in His box, contained safely in a part of our life, our society where He can be found but where He can not fully act? Is God only in our Sunday? Or is God in our every day? Is God in our home, work, leisure, health, politics, justice, illness, recovery, death? Do we allow God to reach out into every aspect of our lives as He longs to do? We need to embrace God in our everything and everywhere. We need to allow God to be with us and help us. And we need to share God with excitement and enthusiasm wherever we are.
Look at the photo and see how the poor plant has no room to grow it's roots. No room to explore and find new elements, nutrition and resources. It is bounded by an impregnable barrier which you can see through but not break through.
Does the church do the same to us? As I look at the heart sinking debates about Women Bishops (please can we hurry this up) and Gay marriage (seriously, it's marriage based on love, a gift from God, let's just get on with it). We are called to go to all nations telling the good news of Jesus Christ and baptising people yet all those people hear about the church are how non inclusive we are. We are bounded by our own impregnable barrier and it's time we realised this and pulled it down. We need to stop allowing people to gawp at us as weirdos and invite them inside to meet who we really are and understand what our faith really means.
Look at the photo and see how the roots and see how they keep going down but they don't find an alternative. They could grow up into the middle soil and find other sources of sustenance but the plant isn't able to do that. It's stuck and so it dies.
I know that I am as guilty of this as anyone. I think I know the plan for my life and I plot the route I'll follow. But life isn't like that, I know that so well; and so we have to be flexible and allow our lives to take new courses which feed and nurture us. My experience tells me that when we allow that to happen; when we bend and flex and follow the right path then we find a richer life with God leading the way every step. It's not easy, and it can hurt to change direction; but God is with us and knows what goodness will come of it.
Look at the photo and see how little volume of soil provided. This seed was planted with good grace, energy, enthusiasm and real hope for growth; but the soil was too small, too poor quality and with too little sustenance to keep the growth going.
Jesus tells us to care for the poor, feed the hungry, stand up for the down trodden, protect the weak and guide the lost. We are called to be a missionaries and to share God's word and love as we go. it takes energy and prayer and resources in large volumes and we can not underestimate this when we set out. That doesn't mean we don't do it; but it means, as I know from experience, that if we do it alone we will struggle and might fail. We need to make time to rebuild our energy, we need time in prayer for guidance and love, we need people to help us.
Look at the photo and see this plant and it's wasted potential. One seed planted which will never grow to produce seeds, fruit and new life. One seed which has tried desperately on its own but has had to admit it is only one seed and needs additional help.
We are all called to God's work. We are all disciples of Jesus' disciples and we are called to share the good news as they were. But we don't have to do it alone. We are all part of one body and together we are strong and deep and more than enough. It is easy to feel alone in our calling but we aren't; we have the body of Christ and Christ Himself to feed, guide abs sustain us. God knows His plan for us and as long as we keep leaning on Him our potential will never be wasted.
Are you root bound?
How about your church?
Your relationship with God?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.