by Karen Berry
Can you feel the excitement in the air? We are just days away from the most extraordinary celebration of the year. The birth of our New Born King! The day we receive the perfect gift, The Word in the flesh. The Promise fulfilled.
During this time of year, every moment is precious, but I do hope you will keep reading as I share with you what God laid on my heart this holiday season. I’d like to ask you to prayerfully consider joining me in this adventure in 2022. However, let’s first rewind a few weeks and start at the beginning.
This year, just like every year, our family went to pick out a Christmas tree. We played Christmas music as we prepared to find the perfect tree. Because we live in Florida, we went to a large covered parking lot filled with stacks of trees to sort through. With the scent of pine wafting through the air, we enjoy looking for “the one” we would take home.
Our Christmas tree is a nostalgic one. Almost every ornament has a story. Loved ones created some, and others were picked out to remember a special occasion or place. Hanging the ornaments on the tree each year fills my heart with joy. Then, after the work is done, we get to stand back and enjoy our masterpiece. Every year I am amazed how much I cherish having this big bulky tree in our house, how the room always seems cozier and more filled with love because of the tree.
We just love the tradition of having a live tree for Christmas, but there is always one big challenge. For all you “real tree people”, you understand that the next month becomes all about keeping your tree drinking water as long as possible so that the tree stays fresh and healthy. You know the drill; every morning you have to bend down to check the basin and refill if needed. This year, you can imagine my dismay and disappointment when I checked the basin the first morning, and it was still full to the brim. Oh no, I thought, this tree is not even going to last until Christmas. I stood back and looked at our tree, thinking, it looks so beautiful on the outside, but it is really just slowly dying.
When I pondered on this for a moment, I thought, I can relate. How often do I dress up on the outside, but inside I still allow life-sucking activities to fill my time, mind, and soul. (negative influences, doubt, anxiety, fear & worry, materialism & greed…..the list goes on and on)
I love that our Amazing God uses moments like these to speak to us. He had the image pop into my head of an extensive root system of a tree. BEING ROOTED - this is what a tree needs to help it thrive, and so do we. God ask me to start thinking of the importance of the roots of a tree instead of just focusing on the outer appearance of the tree.
With this gentle nudge, I looked up some information about roots online and in scripture. I was trying to figure out what the LORD was sharing.
In the article, The Root System of Oak Trees, I loved how Mary Simpson spoke about the importance of the roots of a tree, so I am going to share a direct quote.
“a tree’s root system is not given the appreciation it warrants. This configuration of underground tentacles is the source of health or illness for the tree, and when winds buffet the tree, it serves as an anchor. The roots are what gives the tree its strength to grow upward and outward.”
Like many, I have never really stopped to appreciate the roots system that supports the magnolia tree bursting with beautiful white flowers, the majestic oaks that create a canopied road, or an orange tree dotted with delicious fruit just waiting to be plucked. Of course, I know the roots are there; they just have not been on my radar.
As I dove into God’s Word and focused on finding scripture about roots, there were, like always, many truths and promises for me to pause & reflect on.
Being in this season of Advent and preparing for the birth of our LORD and Savior, the verses in Isaiah reminded me that all things are possible with God. Even when things look hopeless, God can find a way to bring life. Jesus came into this world through a family tree that was filled with brokenness, sin, and shame. But, because they were rooted in God, this New Branch could shoot up, bringing hope, light, and love onto the earth.
Isaiah 11: 1-3
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord-
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Furthermore, Jeremiah 17:7-8 spoke directly into my soul. It was the nurturing words I needed to hear. Reminding me that my hope and confidence come from the Lord and that through being DEEPLY rooted in Him, I can face every storm and any drought that comes my way. It was also a blessing to read that God can still use me to bless others “never stop producing fruits,” even during my most challenging season.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by the long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."
The last scripture that I will share is a little different from the first two because it was written after Jesus had come down to earth. In Colossians 2:7, we have the privilege to read the words Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae. He says, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” In this verse, Paul tells us whom to build our life on and whom to deeply root into, JESUS! Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate. Jesus, who brings hope and joy to the entire world. Jesus, who loves you and me unconditionally.
In 2022, let’s read every word we can about Jesus. Let’s read the most incredible love story ever written. Let’s become DEEPLY ROOTED in THE WORD through His Word.
Please consider joining me in reading the Bible in a year in 2022. Ask a friend or family member to join you too. I know God will reveal wondrous things to us through His life-giving Word.
Below are a few different plans that you may want to consider. You can purchase a student bible and follow their plan, you can watch daily youtube or listen to a podcast.
If you have read the Bible in a year, we’d love to hear some tips or words of encouragement. If you like a specific reading plan, please share it with our readers.
Merry Christmas Friends!
The Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz on YouTube or listen to their Podcast