Life Lessons from the Garden, Pt. 6: Strong Root Systems
My friend, Mary Beth, has a sapling peach tree she and her husband planted in their yard. Upon purchase, they were advised that when it begins to bear fruit, to pick it immediately so that the tree's energy can be focused on developing a strong root system and bear a greater harvest in the future. It seems counterproductive and the antithesis of what you are trying to achieve. After all, a fruit tree's purpose is to bear fruit.
This principle is mentioned in the book of Leviticus 19:23-25, which states, "When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God."
Root systems are paramount to ensuring the plant's survival and the time given for its development. For instance, in peach trees, even though they may have fruit, they must be removed so that the tree and the branches can grow to maturity. After about three years, it can produce a crop provided that the crop doesn't damage the tree branches.
The root system fixes the plant to the ground, stabilizing it so that when harsh weather comes, it can survive. The roots continue to grow undetected beneath the earth, searching for the water necessary to sustain the plant's life. They grow in the direction of the water and nutrients needed for growth and then store it. Additionally, while acting as a storage mechanism, they also expel any toxins within the plant to prevent damage. As the roots grow more robust, some can be cut to develop another plant or used for medicinal purposes.
Scripture often discusses the roots of the Christian. Consider the following:
· Jeremiah 17:7-8, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."
· Proverbs 12:3, "A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous cannot be moved."
· Colossians 2:6-7, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."
It may seem counterproductive to discard a fruit tree's early fruit, but remember, the goal is the tree's growth so that it can hold and sustain the weight of heavy fruit as it ripens to maturity. It is crucial that branches don't break trying to support fruit they cannot yet care for because of an undeveloped root system. Give it time. You and I were called to fruitfulness, but that requires a maturity lovingly developed by a caring gardener who wants your crop to flourish even when storms come.
Loving Gardener, thank You that You are allowing my root system to grow. I desire that I will be able to bear the fruit of righteousness and be firmly affixed in Your garden. Forgive me for my impatience with Your methods in my life. I reach for the water of Your Word that I may grow strong and withstand the onslaught of every storm life sends me. I choose today to submit to Your process. In Jesus' Name, amen.