31 Days: Putting down Roots

Photo Credit: John Pretty via Compfight cc

Today I returned to Alan Fadling’s book, An unhurried life: following Jesus’ rhythms of work and rest. In it he describes how early in his ministry Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth and announced his purpose by reading these verses from Isaiah 61:

Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…

And if Jesus had kept reading he would have come to these words in verse three:

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I was struck by this image and Fadling’s explanation that we are “these oaks of righteousness planted by the Lord [to] put his splendour on display, a display quite different from human excitement, enthusiasm and thrills. Splendor is quieter, stronger, less hurried and more deeply rooted.”

As I read this I was reminded of a gorgeous picture book called Tina the Tree by Andrew McDonough. You can read the whole story on the Lost Sheep website, but if I may summarise here, Tina the tree lives by a life-giving river in the hot dry climate of Australia. Tina loves to show hospitality to all the living creatures around her. But soon Tina is running herself ragged trying to help everyone.

What they really need is for Tina to stay by the river and sink her roots into the water. Strong and healthy, she can provide food, safety and shelter for the creatures who need her.

We are designed to display the Lord’s splendour, and we can’t do that by constantly running around in a hurry trying to get more done. As we are planted by the Lord we need time to be still, to send down roots and to grow in him.

The Rhythm of Rest
This is Day 5 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).

In the Stillness

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honoured by every nation. I will be honoured throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10

You can be standing perfectly still, but inside you’re a ball of turmoil, or filled with rising anxiety or impatience.

If you’ve ever played a game of statues, you know that the harder you try not to move, the more your body desperately wants to do exactly that. And the longer your body stays still, the more your muscles yell in protest. Our bodies are designed to move.

So it seems an impossible ask to be still long enough to hear God’s whisper, to know his presence, to know that he is God.

But being still before God is not so much about being physically still (although that may be helpful), but about cultivating an inner stillness. A stillness that allows me to be present to God, to be aware of what he is doing, to listen to what he is saying.

I read once that Jesus has a ‘leisured heart.’ I’ve always liked that phrase – a leisured heart. It speaks to me of someone who is in no hurry, someone who is at peace with himself and his circumstances, someone who is fully present to the moment, someone who has cultivated an inner stillness.

Only someone like that would be able to sleep in a fishing boat through the middle of a storm, as it fills with waters and looks like sinking.

Only someone like that would be able to walk on water while the wind and waves whipped up around him.


This inner stillness is not dependent on outer circumstances.

When I am rushing, when I feel the pressure of competing priorities rising, when I’m not sure what to do first, when circumstances threaten to overwhelm, there is an invitation to be still, to acknowledge the Lord’s presence, his love, grace and wisdom, and to listen.

To listen for his still, small voice – his gentle whisper. To honour him.

Circumstances may not change, but my heart will.


Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being on the beach

Standing on the beach watching the waves roll in and break on the shore, water spreading across the sand in flat layers of foam. The tide washes over your feet, dragging the sand out from under you.

Back … and forth. In … and out.

Your feet begin to sink. If you stand still long enough, you are no longer on the beach, but in it.

It’s a timeless kind of moment. A moment for thinking, for reflecting, for dreaming…

Or just for being.