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Reasonable Root Systems

February 6th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 12: 2-3 (NLT)

 2 The Lord approves of those who are good,
      but he condemns those who plan wickedness.

 3 Wickedness never brings stability,
      but the godly have deep roots.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My adventures in student ministries shape much of my image of life.  I’ve been speaking publicly about my faith since I was sixteen years old.  I sat in the volunteer’s seat during my first few years in college and for almost a decade now, I’ve worn the pastor’s hat.  During some of this time, I’ve divided my time and energies with another job . . . mainly teaching in the public school system.  For the past five years, I’ve been a full-time pastor- something I’m still surprised about sometimes.

My years in this culture and my specific viewpoint there within have lent me a front row seat to the decision-making coliseum of multiple generations.  I watch as parents make decisions about how to raise their children and how to react to their family’s changing dynamics.  Sometimes I agree; sometimes I don’t . . . but one thing is certain: the decisions are theirs to make, not mine.

I watch as students make the myriad of choices that are paraded before them each day from fashion to family to dating to devotion.  In my younger days, I used to think that I possessed the viable possibility of making decisions for others.  I just knew that if I was given adequate time and the right atmosphere, I could convince them of the correct choice.  Logic.  Reasoning.  Perspective.  From my seat, I could see them all clearly. 

Imagine my dismay when student after student chose alternate paths instead of the correct ones.  At first, I was confused and devastated.  Come on, dude!  How can you not see this?!  It was like living in a dream where you run and run but never get where you are going.  I pleaded and reasoned and debated and taught, but in the end, the choice never left their possession.  It was always theirs and theirs alone.

By force of circumstance, I conceded to the fact that I can’t control the outcomes in people’s lives; I could only control my efforts and work to affect my own attitude and growth– hey, I get it wrong so many times myself, I’m not fit to be the example anyway.  Thus, I accepted the fact that many people out there (sometimes myself as well) will deliberately choose poor paths even when they’ve been warned.

I think that no other area of life exemplifies this principle more than relationships. Relationships are the “achilles heel” of so many individuals.  Somewhere down deep inside, we are prone to respond to emotions and feelings rather than truth and counsel when it comes to our romantic lives.  Hey, we have all struggled with it. The thing is, I’m so direct about it that you would think it would take root more often.    

But time after time, I helplessly watch as people make detrimental choices with their “hearts” instead of letting their faith carry over into their real lives.  Listen dear, I know that he’s nice, but if his parole officer has to accompany you two on all of your dates, are you sure that he’s exactly what you’re looking for?  You want to be a missionary for crying out loud!

The nerve of some people!  Stinking judgmental youth pastors!

Thus, we stand at the hub of a generation and attempt to point out the best paths for those who pass by, conscious that we are directing them from behind an impenetrable wall of invisible glass and that our voices are the only real influence we can exert. They will simply have to choose for themselves.

We, however, aren’t the only ones watching.  So is God.  “The Lord approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness.”  In other words, when we make decisions to seek the approval of others, we are missing the point.  It is the approval of our Father that we should be seeking first.  

At the heart of errant pursuits is the desire for stability.  It’s like spending your whole paycheck on lottery tickets desperate to become a millionaire.  Dude, it ain’t gonna happen and you just wasted everything you have in a foolish search to gain something you’ll never have.  That plan was condemned from the start and not because of some huge moral issue over the lottery . . . just because the choice isn’t wise and won’t produce the desired stability.

The choices we make in life are the keys to finding solid ground.  As this passage states, “Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots.”  Oooh, I like the sound of that!  Deep roots indicate that there’s a whole lot going on underground that can’t necessarily be seen on the surface.  

That’s the nature of true stability . . . internal growth that sustains the external life. The seasons of life may blow down a few branches or wither up a few leaves here or there, but the real strength is buried too far beneath life’s soil to be touched by the elements.

You and I can’t make the choices to go “underground” for anyone else but ourselves. But deep down there is where the nutrients of our development flow and where real strength is filtered into our branches.  It’s not the flashiest place; sometimes it’s dirty and difficult.  However, the choice to take our growth to the very root of who we are is right in front of us.  When we let our faith affect our roots, the rest of our life’s tree will benefit.

For me, I hope that the root systems beneath the soil are more impressive than the limbs and branches above it.  The choice is mine.


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