In the past few years, I have discovered the life and beauty of Wisconsin’s north woods. Three times now, when summer rolls around, we’ve retreated to a lakehouse for a week with dear friends—and it feeds my soul.

And here’s what I’ve noticed about the north woods:
lots of stuff grows right out of the ground up there.

I guess I’ve become too accustomed to Southern California where we place things on the ground or over the ground. Buildings, pavement, freeways. On top, but not rooted in.

But in the woods, seeing the trees rooted gladly in the soil and their leafy arms stretching out to the sky puts me in mind of those places in Scripture where our blessedness is described in just those terms.

Jeremiah 17:7-8, (echoing Psalm 1)

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.

I Cor. 3:6-7
I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow

Eph. 3:17
I pray . . . 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 Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

And of course, John 15:5
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Nothing?! Really?
Apparently much depends upon staying connected to God.

We are accustomed to emphasize journey in speaking of our lives, and we should. But equally strong in the Bible is this metaphor of dwelling deeply. One point of the agricultural metaphor is that as our connection to God deepens, we thrive. As it grows shallow, we wither.

Even here in Southern California, when I see trees sprouting up solitary, hemmed in by the pavement, I am reminded of the one thing necessary—as Jesus and Paul both say: to send the roots down. And I ask my soul: how have I connected to Him? How am I connecting to others? What is it to send my roots down deep, every day–to dwell as I journey?

– Todd Pickett