I know, I know. It’s funny that I’m writing a blog post titled “uprooted” on a blog that literally just changed to include “roots” in the title. Jesus has an ironic and witty sense of humor and we’ll give you a punch line at the end, so bear with me.
When I first started pursuing a relationship with Jesus I was given the book The Shack to read. In The Shack they use the metaphor of a garden to show the way God is tending to our life and explain the idea that what might look unruly and unkempt to us, is actually a masterpiece from God’s view.
Lately it has felt that if my heart and life were a garden, God is not just trimming and planting – he is ripping everything up and starting anew.
I feel like flowers are being pulled up and dirt is flying and even the bedrock of the garden is being scattered and uprooted. I know it is God doing this work, and so I can naturally deduce that it will result in His good and His plan, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is confusing and chaotic and painful. I often feel disoriented and even frustrated. It doesn’t feel like progress, it feels like 10 steps backward.
But in the midst of my learning’s on the importance of community, God has had friend after friend speak into my life and say they are encouraged by the work they see Him doing in me. I don’t always see it and I honestly just feel like I’m a mess 95% of the time, but thanks Jesus for good friends! He isn’t just tending the garden of my heart and soul; he is transforming it into something entirely new.
It reminds me of one of my absolute favorite C.S. Lewis passages.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Creating an entirely new garden – or new house – is messy. Dust and dirt get everywhere and it’s not pretty at first. My life feels really messy and definitely not pretty. Sins I thought I’d resolved have arisen afresh to process and work through. I am struggling with levels of anxiety I haven’t had in years. Wounds I had written off as in the past have started to hurt – as if they were broken bones that weren’t set quite right the first time around.
But oddly enough, for the first time that I have experienced so much mess and struggle and chaos, I have no doubt that God is good and He is with me. He has been so present and so clear in his affections for me. Even though this hurts abominably as my good buddy C.S. says, I trust that the pain will be worth it.
I have evidence pointing to the fact that having your life uprooted can be the biggest blessing and most joyful adventure. I get to live in that proof every day when I wake up in California after being uprooted from one coast to another.
Jesus never promises us an easy life or a happy one. But he does promise us that he will give us a full and purposeful life and he promises to transform us into who we were created to be. Amidst the chaos, God is creating me anew and transforming me day in and day out. If I want my life to be a testament to his glory, I have to die to my old self every day.
This morning I was praying through some of the heaviness that has been dug up in my garden that I had buried ages ago. And in the newness of the person he is making me into, he whispered a new name he fondly calls me. “Elah.”
I wrote it down and smirked and told Jesus I was pretty sure that wasn’t a word and was just what ends up on emails when I’m typing my name too fast and mix up the first two letters. (Jesus is luckily very patient and puts up with my sass.) So I googled it because apparently I haven’t learned that you don’t win arguments against an all-knowing God, and low and behold it is actually a biblical word that in Hebrew means Oak.
It is not only a beautiful word, but also ties up so much of what Jesus has been telling me. For the last few months I have kept hearing the word “roots” and been meditating lately on the Scripture Isaiah 61:1-3 which details the way the Lord transforms his people and not ends with “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Yeah – Jesus is pretty freaking clever.
Being called Elah by a God who knows me intimately and loves me fiercely feels like a new start and a fresh identity. So when it feels like every part of my life is being uprooted, I am remembering that my identity and my purpose are firmly rooted in him. And lucky for me, He cannot be shaken.