In the summer I noticed a seedling growing in my blueberry bush bed. At first I thought it was a weed but later I realized it was a small tree. Evidently in my wood chips, a walnut had found soil and sprouted. Excited about possibly having a new tree in our yard, I began to research the best time to transplant a small tree. One site recommended transplanting the tree in the fall after the leaves have been shed. This is because in the winter the tree will experience extensive root growth.
In the season when the trees look their most bare, in the season when they look dead, in the season when they produce nothing – that is the season where their roots grow the best. Winter is the season when the tree is preparing for outward growth in the warmer months. Winter is the season when it prepares an elaborate root system that enables the tree to withstand the oppressive heat and dry spells of summer.
In contemplating this lesson from nature, I began to think about the winters of our lives. Times will come when the pain or trial will be so great that we simply cannot see past it. Bearing great harvests of fruit for the kingdom of God may seem impossible when all we can muster is the strength to simply survive the day.
When we find ourselves in a winter, I say we should embrace it for what it is.
It’s cold. It’s harsh. It’s unrelenting. It’s gray. It’s lonely.
It’s far from productive.
But it’s also temporary. It’s pregnant with hope and opportunity. It’s the time to focus on growing roots.
We grow roots by committing ourselves to the Word of God. We grow roots by spending time in prayer. We grow roots by taking in the circumstances around us and allowing God to teach us what we couldn’t have learned without those circumstances.
And when the winter gives way to the hope and life of spring, then, our roots will enable us to grow beautiful leaves and yield harvests of fruit beyond imagination.
When we find ourselves in the midst of a harsh winter, let’s not simply hunker down and wait for it to pass. Let’s grow some roots.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:2-3, emphasis mine)