Our need to feel “at home” is a natural one. We need to have commonality, to have a routine place to go at the end of the day. A place to rest weary heads and hands; a place people know our name and our needs without us whispering a word.
I know a lot of people who have had this same place their entire lives. The same friends, same roads to drive down, same familiar air and sky.
My life has been different than most. As a pastor’s kid, I moved quite a bit in my life. Nine times in 32 years to be exact, five of those by age 18. I don’t really know what it’s like to have a lifetime friend from childhood. I don’t know what it’s like to share stories with classmates that were the same from kindergarten through high school graduation.
My friendships scattered throughout the Carolinas, from Camden to Chesnee to Western North Carolina to Charleston. My family is probably one of the few where all of us siblings graduated from different high schools.
My roots geographically speaking have never been firmly planted. Life would be uprooted and transferred to a new town with new names and new faces. Five different schools and roughly a dozen various church homes in my lifetime. Sometimes I get confused looking back placing certain people in towns they didn’t belong in; my mind meshing together the various experiences into one large picture, not differentiating from each relocation.
To some this may seem almost tragic. To never have truly felt at “home” in a town is an odd feeling indeed. I’ve become accustomed to it all, the packing and leaving, saying goodbyes, reflecting briefly then turning the page. It’s almost a second nature.
It was probably sometime late in college, however, when I realized my geography didn’t matter. My physical location in the large scheme of things is of relative unimportant meaning. My roots aren’t buried deep in central South Carolina’s sandy soil. They aren’t digging into the earth of the North Carolina mountains. They aren’t firmly planted in the upstate of South Carolina or in the beaches of Charleston.
No, these roots are not even entrenched in the ground of East Tennessee. These roots are burrowing slowly but surely into the ever rich soil of Jesus Christ.
"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." -Jeremiah 17:7,8
I used to be upset when we would move, too young and immature to rightly view the bigger picture God was painting. Life was unstable, and I just wanted friends I could call on for more than just a season of life.
As we grow in our faith, we understand more that this earth is not our home. That when we trust in things of this world, we are sorely disappointed because they never last. They are not eternal, even our relationships with those we love deeply.
When we are planted in Christ, we give up our rights to determine how our roots grow. ”Remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” -Romans 11:18
Our own soil is shaky. Our own motives and actions can thrust us into a temporary happiness. It is only when we truly are faithful in our hope in Jesus Christ that we endure the storms that blow limbs from trees; storms that uproot even the sturdiest of oaks and redwoods.
"Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up." -Matthew 15:13
The beauty of technology today is that I can connect with those friends from towns and cities long departed. Friends from Camden, Valdese, Chesnee, Charleston, and areas in between. Family that is now stretched all over the southeast from Florence, SC to Roanoake, VA are now accessible through various devices. For this I am truly thankful.
I’m also thankful that God moved us. I’m thankful he held us strong in His grasp in every move from one house to the next. I’m thankful for His guidance and wisdom knowing that my finite human mind could never really understand why things were the way they were.
Now as a husband and father, I pray that God would show me daily the things He surely showed my father while we were children: your roots are strong in His love. You don’t have to worry about what’s next, because you are planted firmly in Christ Jesus.
"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge." -Ephesians 3:17-19
There is a Wild Fig tree in South Africa that has what are thought to be the deepest roots of any tree in the world, extending over 400 feet into the earth. My prayer is that our roots would bury even deeper into the love of Christ, so when the next wind blows, we will not sway or be cast into the wind, but rather hold strong to the one true never changing everlasting thing we can know: the supreme love of Christ.