"...the secret I have only now just learned; leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can't do that until your life has grown roots." -John Green
My blue bottle is a common vessel filled with an even more common clipping. I bought it for less than a dollar and it has moved with us from place to place. Every Spring I cut some green off the side hedge that grows unruly and put some in my blue bottle. The clippings get tossed every two weeks or when the leaves edges turn brown. It wasn't until an art lesson this past winter that I realised that I hadn't tossed the clipping in the bathroom out in a while. Eight eager students, oil pastel in hand were ready to draw the blue bottle and green leaves for a still life. As I was setting it down the light above the table pierced through the cobalt blue to reveal a tangle of roots. I tried to remember the last time I had put new clipping in. I remembered the countless times wiping down the smudged sink, finger prints and mud. I remembered filling it with more water while yelling to the boys to wash the sink after they wash their hands. It had been at least six months I was sure. That winter and following spring I continued to wipe down the sink and add more watter to the blue bottle. I now lifted the bottle to the light each time to see if the roots were still growing. A year and a half later it is still alive, roots growing and green leafed.
I cannot paint a more clear picture of what the past years have been like here in Culpeper, Va. We moved here to start Young Life ten years ago. We drove through this small sleepy town with a five month old and a five year commitment. I remember asking if we had to stay the whole five years. I remember Jeff grabbing my hand and smiling. And then the ministry started, and more importantly the relationships started. God began to weave many high school kids, their parents, and friends into our hearts and lives. I joke that our front door should be a revolving door. Luke and Levi have asked why the girls come cry and talk on the couch for hours while the guys stand outside and talk for ten minutes. We have seen nine graduations, a new high school built, and new start ups. New leaders, countless camp trips, and early morning bible studies. We had a Levi, a house fire, a renovation, and an Ian. And all that time our roots grew. You don't notice the roots grabbing deep the earth around you. It happens unseen, quietly. The green leaves and fruit are way more visible.
The storms that shake and bring doubt are more distracting. But all that time they grew. People have asked why we are leaving. The work is not done. It is hard to explain to someone what it feels like to be moving on to what God has next. That the work will never be done until we are called home. Leaving is easier knowing that roots were securely planted. Lives were changed and God did His work in us and through us and will continue to even after the blue bottle is packed up. God is calling us to grow deep roots where He has placed us. Most of the time it happens slowly while relationships grow and get tested. While we tend gardens or have to work in the field. During the warm spring months or the bitter winter storms.
I pray that you are growing deep roots right now. Right where you are. I pray that your roots grow deep in relationship with God and each other. And that when He does call you into a new place you will leave behind something of value. Something that makes leaving a little easier because it will grow even after you are gone.
"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ."