Despite a lifelong fascination with the beauty of the flora God has provided for us to tend and enjoy, I have never considered myself a gardener. I have a bit of a black thumb—meaning most of the flowerpots I receive will be dead inside a month, no matter how meticulously I water them. I suppose there’s a good reason God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, and not me.
But a few years ago, much to my initial chagrin, our office team adopted a little orchid we dubbed “Jaffa.” At the time, I was picking out orchid-sized coffins in my head, giving the thing until spring before it withered away to nothing.
It’s been about three winters since, and despite a few missed weekly feedings, Jaffa has thrived, doubling in size and blooming three times, each one providing months of wondrous beauty after which she goes back into hibernation. Given my initial lack of orchid knowledge, I was tempted to toss her out after the first blossoms fell (plus I didn’t want to waste the coffin), but with persistence and routine feedings even when she seems by all accounts dead, Jaffa has continued to reawaken.
As I’ve studied her closely over the years, one thing I’ve become very aware of is that during her budding and hibernating phases, she sprouts a copious number of “air roots”—little green tendrils that often far exceed the height of her orchid pot, resembling a five-year-old’s messy locks after a hardcore night’s sleep. I’ve also noticed that as wild as Jaffa’s air roots grow, her roots in her soil, which we faithfully water, are also deep.
When we’d had Jaffa for about two years, we decided to experiment our communal botany skills by keeping TWO orchids alive. Enter Cheva, a little orchid my mother won at a bridal shower, who came along already dazzling with unique blossoms. But unlike Jaffa, we noticed at once that Cheva’s potting was not as good; not only that, but his roots both in and out of the soil were thin, shriveled, and sickly looking. Despite our best efforts, once those first gorgeous blossoms fell from Cheva’s stalks, he never bloomed again. One by one, his stalks and leaves took on the same withered appearance as his roots, and we had to lay him to rest at last (orchid coffin 1, Cheva 0).
As God intended it from the beginning, I’m sure, I’ve realized there’s lots of lessons to learn from this foray into plant husbandry.
People talk a lot about the importance of where you’re going in life—in essence, how you’re blooming—but not as much attention is often given to what your roots are. I think of how Jaffa is only able to flourish because her roots are strong and nourished, and that in turn nourishes the rest of her. She grows because she’s grounded. She’s empowered from the soil up.
In this way, we’re not so different from orchids.
Ephesians 3:17-18 tells us that we must be rooted and grounded in love in order to comprehend the dimensions of Christ’s love for us, and through that love, we become empowered to grow and love others in a more productive way. The love we must be rooted in refers to both God’s love for us, and our love for Him, for Christ, and for our fellow believers. When we are rooted in this love, anchored in it, fed by it, we are able to flourish and mature.
Think about your roots: not where you were born or whether you were brought up in the Word, but where you are now. What nourishes the soil you’re planted in? Are you rooted and grounded in love? Does love, both received and given, feed and empower you to expand beyond where you started, to grow twice as high as the boundaries that contain you, to accept and also offer greater and greater love?
That’s the reality God yearns for us to live in: one of comprehending Christ’s love, experiencing it, and spreading that same love to others. When we are rooted in these dimensions of love, we will be filled with the fullness of God. And what a wonderful state that is!
But this doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time and care to cultivate our roots. A lot of it depends on our soil, and how we’re planted. We must remember that we grow when we’re well-grounded. It’s the only way to thrive.
So ask yourself today, as you look ahead to the New Year: what can you do to become even better rooted and grounded in love, so that you can truly experience the dimensions of Christ’s love and be filled with the fullness of your Heavenly Father?