Colossians 2

((from Kate))

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.  So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

When you came to Christ, you were ‘circumcised,’ but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision – the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with Him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” Colossians 2:6-15 ((emphasis mine))

“Faith” is one of the spiritual gifts. It’s one I’ve always I assumed I wasn’t given or didn’t possess because faith is very difficult for me. A lot of my life experiences have proven not to align with the promises and hopes I’ve spent my life studying in His word. But I have stayed out of commitment. I have oft described the last 14 years of my relationship with God as a loveless marriage… where, many days, loyalty and the discipline of covenant-keeping is all that prevents me from packing my bags.

I’ve watched His words ring true for hundreds of believing friends, and it’s made the fight to stay even more difficult. So, naturally, I never thought of “faith” as one of the Holy Spirit wrought and watered gifts given to me at my conversion… until…

Until last year when I spent ten months in intentional conversation and world-travel to have my eyes opened to some of what I’d never seen or considered. And in one of those conversations a screechingly loud epiphany exploded somewhere in my insides – THERE ISN’T ONLY ONE KIND OF “FAITHFULNESS” WHEN IT COMES TO US + GOD…

Here I’d been so very jealous, for years, of those who found it easy to never doubt. Who believed God simply because He said we should. Those brothers and sisters drove me mad with jealousy – how much I would love to blindly believe with ease!!! “God says He’s good so He is.” “God says He’ll provide, so He will.” “God says He loves me, so I believe it.”

I wanted that child-like faith desperately.

Did you ever see the movie “The Ring”?
I am anti-horror films, I think the enemy doesn’t need any more residential space in our brains and I don’t want to put unnecessary darkness in my already-overactive imagination, but in my youth it was popped into the DVD player during a slumber party. I don’t remember the plot whatsoever, but this is the image that stuck with me:
A girl had died after being trapped in a covered well. And they showed deep, deep gouges in the cement from where she’d clawed and scratched until her fingers were probably bloodied and broken – desperate to get free.

That’s the image that comes to mind when I think of this second, hard-fought variety of “faith” that He has indeed gifted me with. I’ve cried and screamed and stuck it out. I won’t leave Him, even when I believe He’s left me.

“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

I’m not patting myself on the back – nor am I crediting myself with the shouldered responsibility of a sustained relationship with God… what I’m telling you is that I’ve spent years and years and years grieving my branches with no blossoms only to recently realize that all this time He’s been growing my very thick, deep roots.

The reason I haven’t bent-to-breaking in the maelstroms is because He has been growing my faith underground.

It ain’t pretty.
It’s so very dirty and difficult.
It’s not glorified or a gardener’s dream.
But it sure ain’t gonna be tilled up easily.

The strength of my faith was built upon the TRUTH I have been taught, not grown out of what prayers have been answered or which haven’t. If anything, those roots inched deeper to the earth’s center with every prayer and plead that didn’t come true or find a kind answer.
My life has been built, and my thankfulness has overflowed, because of something I didn’t consider beautiful.

During those months gathered around a table and walking the streets of other countries with fellow pilgrims last year, a friend gifted me a photo screened onto wood that he’d taken years ago after his life of glamorous ministry and marriage fell apart. Living in his van and wondering what was next, he spent some time pursuing a passion for photography and told me that the photo he was gifting me he’d almost thrown away because it wasn’t pretty. Mostly a muddle of indistinguishable tree-browns, there wasn’t a magnolia bloom or cherry blossom in sight. The predominant feature? It’s gnarled roots.

Maybe you haven’t seen your gnarled roots of faith as something beautiful, but that’s what this hard and ugly fight is at it’s core. Supernaturally beautiful.  As we continue to read in the richness of this passage… a moment of faith changes everything. The redemption and radical revival Christ offers in claiming us, growing us, and making us ALIVE is as beautiful as the spring on it’s way (that He also planned as He spun the seasons into motion.)

My dear pals – when you spy the first green sprig come Easter, remember that for as beautiful as the bud, it was the root that continued to survive in the very darkest and most barren winter. Those ugly, faithful roots.

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