Attack the Root
I grew up in northern Vermont, a land abounding with trees and flowers and every kind of beautiful plant that could survive the cold winters. When my parents first bought the house I was raised in, it was on a quiet dead-end road surrounded by forest with a wide river on one side. As I grew, so did our town, and those trees got cut down to make room for the homes of my new classmates.
First, the trunk would be cut down. This killed the tree and stopped it from growing. Then, the stump would be dug out and run it through a woodchipper. This made it so the earth could heal and new grass could begin to grow in its place. Finally, the cut trees were removed from the area and brought to a lumberyard.
Well that’s a nice story, but what does it have to do with you? This is how we should be treating our sin. So often we see the leaves - we deal with specific sins as they pop up and do our best to cut them off. What happens, though? The root of those sins continues to grow and we continue to grow weary at the increasing weight of it. We feel like we’re treading water, unable to get a grip on our own thoughts and actions.
If a lumberjack went into my backyard with a pair of scissors and began snipping the leaves off a tree in an attempt to knock it down, I would laugh. And yet, more often than not, this is how I approach my own heart. For example: when I was a teenager I was very jealous of other girls, I had issues with wanting to control how much or how little I allowed myself to eat, I would over-exaggerate my stories (let’s be real - I lied) and I was insecure about how I looked. All of these things consistently burdened me and my prayer life felt weary, almost like I was missing something.
A friend pointed out to me that all these things boiled down to one issue within my heart: I was discontent. I was not happy with what God had given me and where he had me in life. I envied the way other people lived because I felt I deserved the friends and opportunities they seemed to have. I sought after food as something I could control because I wasn’t fully trusting God’s ability to orchestrate my life. I felt the need to add details and falsify events because the way things happened “just wasn’t interesting enough”. And, I was convinced the Lord had made mistakes in creating me. I thought could’ve done a better job. How selfish. How rotten of my heart to believe I knew better than God.
Colossians 1:13-17, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
In him all things hold together. Not in me, in him. All of those sins were leaves on the tree of discontentment and pride I was allowing to grow within me. The Lord was faithful to open my eyes to the root of my sin which pushed my heart further into repentance. Just like those trees I watched be removed from down the street, we should seek to cut sin off and kill it before it kills us. (Romans 8:13) Just as new grass grew where the stumps used to be, when we repent our hearts are cleansed and can now be molded by God. (Psalm 51:1-12) We should be consistently asking the Lord to open our eyes to the true contents of our hearts and asking Jesus to forgive us and provide us with the strength we need to grow to be more like him. I encourage you to talk to someone. Find someone you trust and ask them to help you get past the leaves and down to the roots. I believe this practice of confessing your sin (1 John 1:9) and having someone to bear your burden (Galatians 6:20) can be a sweet salve to your wounded soul.
More often than not, there is a deeper issue lurking beneath the surface but it can be difficult to see on our own and we must ask God to open our eyes to see sin the way he sees it. We must attack sin at the root, be on guard against temptation, and always be looking to the cross for forgiveness and salvation.
Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
If you’re ever looking for a church in Boston, we’d love to have you visit!
*Rachel Gammal is interning at King’s Hill Church and is serving as the Communications Team Leader.