Ebenezer Collective | ROOTED BY THE STREAM
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Jamie Boettcher

As an active member in my church, and an avid writer, I was asked to join the “preaching team.” This was a small group of people – both clergy and lay – who took turns delivering the sermons. Our lead pastor called us his “bullpen.” After a short period of seeking discernment, I agreed to join the team. The adventure began by spending a weekend at a Lay Speaker retreat, where I received training, encouragement, and inspiration to live out this new calling.

Early into my new adventure, during a morning devotion, the words from Colossians caught my eye:
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7

The words were so alive, so descriptive. I like to take verses that strike me in this way and write them out creatively. I then hang this piece on my dresser, or place by my bedside and ponder it for a period of time. I don’t work on memorizing it, although memorization does often occur. I just meditate on the words, sometimes one at a time, sometimes in a few words at a time. I try to savor every morsel the verse has to offer. I found myself particularly drawn to the imagery of being “rooted and built up in Him.”

A few weeks into my meditation on this verse, I met with my new preaching team to plan out the fall sermon series. As I scrolled through the list of desired topics and corresponding scripture, my eyes stopped at Psalm 1:

“Happy are those

who do not follow the advice of the wicked,

or take the path that sinners tread,

   or sit in the seat of scoffers;

but their delight is in the law of the LORD,

   and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees

   planted by streams of water,

which yield their fruit in its season,

   and their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do, they prosper.”
Psalm 1:1-3

Within the words of Psalm 1, I found new context to the Colossians verses that had been on my heart. Without hesitation, I volunteered for that date. And so, as my meditation on Psalm 1 began, my understanding of the Colossians verses deepened.

Just days later, I met with the leaders of the upcoming women’s retreat at my church. I had volunteered to lead one of the break-out sessions, and we were meeting to receive our assignments from the program leader. The handout was put before me: my session was based on Psalm 1. The program leader had no idea that I just recently agreed to preach on that same topic. This assignment had God’s fingerprints all over it! My delight intensified as I meditated on the Scripture and its application in each of the settings I would be speaking at, just one week apart from each other.

During the period of preparation for the sermon and women’s retreat, I attended a group painting event with some co-workers. At these events, an experienced painter walks everyone through the steps of creating a specific painting. Each person in the class makes the “same” painting, but the creations end up quite unique. The themes are often of beaches, sunsets, and flowers. The artist brought forth her model, and it was a tree. Not a group of trees, not a mountainside of trees, not a sunset with a tree outline. Just as single tree.

I believe that as I meditate and delight in a passage of Scripture, God sends me messages, moments, affirmations of my study, of His pleasure in my learning. During the two-hour event, I mediated on the words “rooted and built up in Him” as I completed each brush stroke. As I used my different senses and the creative side of my brain, my understanding of the Scriptures deepened even more.

When it came time to give the sermon and lead the women’s retreat session, I was able to share many revelations with my listeners. I was able to connect the characteristics of trees to our growth as Christians:

  1. Roots grow where the resources of life are available.
    Roots don’t actually grow toward water like many believe, instead they take root in places that offer life. As people, we too thrive when planted where the resources of life are available and we need to carefully consider our decision about where we plant. 
  2. Healthy trees have extensive root systems.
    Think of a person in your life that has a robust, healthy spiritual life…what does his/her “root system” look like? Perhaps it is filled with daily bible time, deep prayer life, involvement in small groups? That would be an extensive root system. 
  3. The growth of a tree is an integrated phenomenon that depends on a proper balance and functioning of all parts of the tree.
    As people, our spiritual, physical, emotional health are all connected. When one suffers, they all do.

The word “planted” is interchangeable with “replanted” or “transplanted”. In the Common English Bible translation and The Message translation, the word “replanted” is used in Psalm 1. Delight in the law of the Lord, and on His law meditate day and night, and become like trees REPLANTED by streams of water. This is a visual depiction of being born again, that is, being born in the Spirit.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we agree to pick up our roots and replant them by the stream of Living Water.

My tree painting hangs on the wall in my home. It reminds me of how God shows up in my life, as well as how He inspires me to dig deeper into His Word so that I remain rooted by the Stream.

*Read more from Jamie at her blog, OneWordFaith!

Amanda Buccola
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