I was planting flowers this past weekend in our front yard. My son (who is almost two years old) woke up from his nap as I was wrapping up. I brought my groggy Little Man outside, and gave him some chalk to play with while I attempted to get the last of my flowers planted.
Alas, chalk is not nearly as enthralling as the activity I was doing, so he wanted to get in the mix. Literally… there was potting mix on his hands in no time. To keep him from picking the flowers, I handed him a dandelion flower to hold on to.
He sat observing me digging the dirt, putting the plant in, and patting dirt back around it. He studied me as I went down the row. Next thing I know, he is attempting to stick the dandelion stem into the dirt. He wanted to plant his flower, too. (I’ll leave out the part about his melt down that the flower wouldn’t stay in like my flowers did…)
Cut flowers still look like flowers.
The problem with cut flowers is that they’ve been removed from what gave them life, so their fading is inevitable. Even though they don’t look dead quite yet, they most surely will be in a matter of days.
Jesus used this illustration in John 15 when He shared with His followers the most important thing they could do for their soul—to be rooted in the presence of the Lord. He reminded them that apart from Him, they could do nothing. Truly, we know it and we feel it when we are attempting to go forward without the full power of the Source of our life. Like those cut flowers, we sense the eminency of just how long we can hold onto the façade of life.
It’s easy to go through motions. I think we can all admit we’ve done it, yes? Which means we can all agree that it’s one of the most exhausting and dissatisfying places we could be, right? Jesus knew this, and that’s why he lovingly shared the key to being a disciple.
They were to abide in Him.
To remain in His love.
To keep His commandments.
Because, if they would do these things, HIS joy would be in them… so their joy would be full. He was expressing what they needed to do to live out of the fullness of their identity as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus.
The most important thing we could do to stay rooted is to give first priority to our identity as a child of God and disciple of Jesus, not to the roles we have been given to steward.
Truth is, when I am focused on being the best at all of my roles, I am actually at my worst (because I’m depending on myself). Living out of the fullness of my identity produces an abundance that flows over into all of my roles (because I’m abiding in Him). An identity rooted in the truth of who we are is the only possible way to bring coherence and grace to the many roles we steward.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” —John 15:5 ESV
That dandelion looked like it was alive for a little bit, but without the connection to the plant it was picked from, its fate was inevitable. It didn’t last. Friends, I pray we are humble enough to consistently check to see what has our “first,” and to do the most important thing we can do to stay rooted.