It seems the key to a strong, fertile branch is the strength and integrity of its roots. So, how do I build strong roots? Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe strong roots build me. For me, strong roots come from the many people in my life who have helped shape me from when I was very little. All the teachers, ministers, coaches, friends’ parents, and adults in my church played roles in shaping me. Not always for the best, in my opinion – but then, even the challenging relationships helped make me who I am today, so I guess I wouldn’t change it. The guidance, the scolding, the affirmations, the punishments, and the encouragements all helped form the roots that ground me. Am I “good soil”? Are my roots strong enough to withstand “times of testing,” or “cares and riches and pleasures of life”? Some days yes, and some days no. On the days I feel strong, like I can withstand anything, I am grateful for the ones who shaped my roots. On the days I feel shallow, I remember them and realize I am not alone. I never have been. I never will be.
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”