“Do not be rooted in your circumstances. Be rooted in Me.” Those words spoke to me so loudly in August 2014, it was almost deafening. Oh, the words were not audible, but when God spoke them into my spirit, I knew it was Him speaking. I had no clue what those words meant at the time. However, it was the beginning of an over 4-year journey which just recently found its final destination.
Those words came when my husband Jimmy, who is a pastor, felt the Lord leading him to leave our church in Mississippi and head to Memphis. We had been in Mississippi for 5 years and had come to love the area and the people. I was absolutely shocked that God would call us from the place we loved so much. There were no problems within the church to make Jimmy want to leave and the people loved us. I was devastated. Plus, my husband lives and breathes to preach the Gospel, and now God was calling him to a position at a large church in an associate position where he would not have the opportunity to preach. It made absolutely no sense to me. I had never experienced pain to that depth before. Trying to make sense of everything consumed me. I was completely broken. However, along the way, God kept reminding me, “Do not be rooted in your circumstances. Be rooted in Me.” Little by little, I began to see more of what God was saying to me, yet the vision was too fuzzy to be of much comfort. I really thought God’s words to me involved only the move. But, I have since learned that they had a much deeper meaning.
We left Memphis in January 2016, and moved to El Dorado. I looked forward to hearing my husband preach again each Sunday and getting involved in church life as the pastor’s wife. However, the dream I had did not materialize. I am passionate about the Word of God and love to teach people how to study it. I taught several classes, yet it brought no fulfillment. I tried serving in various ministry opportunities as well but nothing brought peace. I struggled settling in, finding my place, and making friends. All the while, God kept whispering, sometimes shouting, “Do not be rooted in your circumstances. Be rooted in Me.”
In the midst of this conflict, I spent a lot of time wondering and reflecting. I began to realize that being in ministry had actually always brought me great frustration. I was exasperated with what I saw as the complacency of American Christianity in general: its lack of desire for God’s Word and God’s mission of disciple-making, holding on to man made traditions over biblical truths, complaining over music and why my husband was not wearing a tie while he preached, incorporating programs over prayer, etc. I allowed this frustration to consume me and rob me of my joy. However, God kept persistently saying, “Do not be rooted in your circumstances. Be rooted in Me.”
In addition to that frustration, I looked back over what I had done while being in ministry. As I said earlier, I love teaching the Bible and have taught often over the years. Nevertheless, in hindsight, I was always relieved when my class was over. I thought it was what I was supposed to do. Jesus makes it clear in the Great Commission that we are to make disciples, so I tried discipling women but could not find consistent disciples. Most of my groups ended almost as quickly as they began. I tried to help our church implement a reading ministry in one of our local schools but that did not go as planned either. Yet, all the while, I was almost obsessive about trying to serve the Lord. I felt as though a “good” Christian would do those things. I am also a Type-A personality on steroids, so I could never determine how much serving was enough. Needless to say, I stayed in a constant state of upheaval.
Just a few weeks before writing this, I was sitting quietly before the Lord and reflecting upon my years of frustration. I cried out to the Lord and asked, “Why am I so discontented? What am I looking for to make me happy? What am I missing?” God sweetly answered, “Me. You’re missing Me. You are looking to your ministry and to people to make you happy. I am the only thing that will ever bring you true joy. I have called you to love Me and to proclaim My name. Those are the only circumstances you need to worry about.” What years of burden those words lifted from me! I realize now that God had knocked out all of the props out from under me so that all I was left with was Him. And He IS more than enough. I rejoice because I can honestly say with a renewed mind and refreshed spirit that I have put down new roots.
Just as plants rooted in sandy or rocky soil do not produce fruit, being rooted in circumstances produces no fruit of joy. While I am fairly new to my new roots, I can say that I am immediately seeing fruit. Life has not changed drastically as far as the day-to-day routine, but my whole perspective has changed. I have a deeper hunger to be in the Bible and His presence than I have had in a long time. I cannot wait until I can sit quietly and just bask in His presence, which is now almost tangible to me. My worship, both privately and in a corporate setting, has burst to new levels.
The burden of performance and trying so hard to do what I thought was necessary to be the “good” Christian is now lifted and I can just enjoy being His child. I feel no pressure to find ways to minister. As far as my frustration with the complacency of American Christianity, my heart breaks for those who have not tasted and seen that the Lord is good. However, there is ecstatic delight knowing there is no weight on me to produce results. All I have to do is proclaim His name to others. The rest is up to Him. While I had a certain vision for what I thought my ministry should be, I am trusting that He will show me what He wants me to do and when He wants me to do it. And He has done just that. I helped out in the 2-year-old room recently at church (so not what I thought I would ever do, ha) and am now organizing the church yard sale. If I were still rooted in my circumstances, I might be quite disappointed at the turn of events. However, a completely new outlook shows me that true joy comes from doing what He has called me to do because He wants what is best for me. The most exciting part about the journey ahead of me is that it can only get better!