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How Confined Are Your Roots?

A Commentary by Constance Vanides

The Gingko Biloba tree, also known as the Maidenhair tree, is one of my favorites. In its natural state it can reach up to 80 feet tall. It has an abundance of fan-shaped leathery light green leaves in Spring and Summer, and with the coming of Autumn, they delightfully turn a lemon/yellow, soon laying a golden carpet underfoot.

My own Gingko is only 22 inches high and has been growing for 30 years in a round unglazed ceramic container that measures only 2 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter!

Bonsai is the Japanese art of cultivating a tree so that its roots are crowded into a small container. These trees continue to grow, some to a very old age, but still remain miniatures of those trees whose roots are not restricted. I give my Bonsai a daily watering and an occasional pruning, yet it continues to grow in the same soil even without clipping its roots or transferring it into a larger pot! I just observe its very slow growth from one season to the next. And yes, the arbor shelf on which my Gingko sits is laden with its miniature golden carpet in the fall.

In contemplating this phenomenon, I wonder, "What if our own 'spiritual roots' were confined and not allowed to grow beyond a certain point? Would we not still grow, although not to the extent we were meant to grow? With fully grown trees, mature fruit is produced to benefit people. Large spreading branches serve as shade in hot summers. Birds nest in the branches. Dried branches light up our fireplaces to keep us warm. Fully grown trees have a usefulness, they are not just something beautiful to look at.

Our personal spiritual roots must also be deep and unconfined. It is what God wants. Jesus is our example of how to grow in beauty and grace. We are to grow, " a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13b) "...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ..." (Ephesians 4:15)

Scripture tells us little about Jesus' childhood growth and development. We do know even as a child He was about His Father's business. (Luke 2:49) His "roots" went deep into the Father's spirit to know His mind and what it was that pleased His Father. We are told, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52)

Likewise, the deeper, the more unconfined, and the freer our spiritual "roots" are in Jesus, the more connected we are as branches to the Vine, the greater will be our growth in Him and our usefulness as well.

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© Constance Vanides