Have you ever grown a plant in a pot? It’s easy, right? As long as you don’t go away from the house for a few days and forget to water it, it grows. It sits in a place where it gets just the right amount of water and sunlight. No harsh weather to harm the newly formed leaves. It’s beautiful to see it grow in that protected environment where it has everything it needs.
There does come a time that the plant is just too big for the pot. It can’t really develop any further under those conditions. It is necessary to take it out of the pot and plant it out where it can grow. When you take it out of the pot, you can see how the tangled mess of roots has grown into a clump, rather than out. Planting the plant out in the open allows the plant to expand its root base out, going deeper in search of the nutrients it needs to flourish. Those expanded roots also create the support base it will need to carry the weight of the growth of the tree developing above ground.
This was similar to my experience when I was first a Christian. I gave my life to the Lord at a young age, and for the first few years I was in an environment that was much like the potted plant. I had my challenges, and I went through a certain amount of growth, but my ‘root system’ wasn’t challenged beyond the protected soil of the pot I was in. One of the handicaps of the pot stage of my growth was that I became arrogant in my walk, not realizing how I was being judgmental about others from the comfort of my own protective state. Little did I know that I was soon to be planted outside my ‘zone’ of protection.
When I left home after high school, I went and worked on an agricultural community in Israel. Form there I went and joined the army, in an infantry unit. This season was about five years where God stripped away all the things that had supported my faith like the pot the plant first grows in. The new challenges I faced, the experiences I was going through didn’t fit any of the nicely formulated theological or doctrinal answers I had. They were harsh, tough and messy. I was in a constant state of being bombarded by an environment I felt ill-equipped to deal with. In my desperation and need, I had to dig, to go deeper, wrestling with God for the blessing of His presence.
This season broke my pot and forced me to expand my root system in search of the resources I needed for survival. I couldn’t rely on the knowledge about God; I had to get to the place where I experienced Him. In this process I found God’s Amazing Grace. In my brokenness He was finally able to reach me. God declared who He is and how He deals with us:
“Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.” (Deut 32:39)
Allowing God to break your pot is the only way you can become the fruitful tree you are destined to be. The wounds He wounds us with are those of a faithful friend (Proverbs 27:6), and His purpose is to plant us where we can grow. That is why we are exhorted:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” (Heb 12:5-8)
This is how God brings us to the place of being like the blessed one who is described in Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” (Ps 1:1-3)
But you will have to let your pot be broken.