March 20, 2021 is the spring equinox—the first day of spring. What a glorious time! My grandma used to say, “My favorite season is fall, but it’s closely followed by spring because I love it when the trees begin to put on their lacey, new leaves.”
My grandma and I would often talk about the seasons and what they meant to us. In literature and also in the Bible, winter is frequently the symbolism for death, old age, pain, loneliness, despair or an end. Conversely, spring symbolizes new life, a fresh start or a chance to begin again. It’s easy to see why people would rather focus on spring instead of winter.
In the garden, winter is a quiet, still and long period. You may say, “Well, not really because during the winter months the winds howl, snow and ice cause damage and there’s still a lot of work that must be done.” That’s true except what I’m talking about is not that which you can see above the ground with your eyes. It’s the root systems of the plants that lie deep below the surface of the ground.
Unlike spring and summer when new plants are breaking ground or being planted, plants going into the winter are dying back on the surface and sitting still at the root level. The opportunity for their growth for the year has already come and gone, and now their only hope is that they have put down roots deep enough to survive the harsh conditions ahead.
Many annual plants, some perennials and a few weeds tend to be shallow-rooted. It is these that cannot withstand the bitter temperatures and prolonged winter months. However, trees, shrubs and perennials that have well-developed root systems reaching deep within the soil are able to withstand even the harshest of conditions.
Over the course of my life, I have found that gardening is very similar to living. If you plan well, things seem to turn out better. There are annual events and “perennial” events, seeds of all kinds that benefit from being planted in good soil. Everything loves a good drink of water, and sunshine helps you stand tall. There are seasons in life to put down deep roots and seasons of life to withstand the winter. During the seasons of putting down deep roots, you need to take advantage of the moment.
You may be wondering, “How does one put down deep roots?” I’m glad you asked! As we walk through this life, we need to sink deep roots in God’s Word.
“I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You” (Ps. 119:1). According to one of my previous youth pastors, “The best time to learn what God has to say about purity is not in the heat of the moment in the backseat of a car.” We need to learn what God has to say about righteous living BEFORE the trials of life come against us.
We also need to sink deep roots in family relationships. As the old saying goes, “You can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with family.” Hopefully, you have been blessed with some great family members, but if not, remember that God is sovereign, and nothing in your life is accidental. He knows exactly who you are related to, and it has passed through His hands.
The handing down of stories, recipes, experiences, laughter and tears, good times and bad times creates deep roots and makes for strong people. When life gets tough, you may not always be able to count on friends, but you can usually count on a family member or two.
Roots that are strong and deep sustain even the smallest of plants. They do not worry or doubt that spring is coming. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream, and does not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8).