“It’s a God thing.” This past weekend while catching up with friends at different events, that phrase kept recurring. It sums up when things happen in a way only God could have orchestrated. Some people may say it’s serendipitous or lucky how things work out, but I firmly believe it’s a God thing.
God’s hand is evident in creation and our lives when we simply pay attention. As I listened to my friends speak how events lined up perfectly to create new opportunities, revelations, and fun experiences, it simply emphasized how God is in control and working for our good. Yet, we’ve all experienced those darker, difficult moments in life. Are these also a God thing? In a word, yes.
It’s not as comfortable for us to think about God in the dark moments, yet that’s often when His presence and work for us is most impactful. While we revel in the positive things God does, the difficult moments when He carries, comforts, and consoles shape our lives like nothing and no one else can. Jesus is with us and working for us in those valley moments which often become a turning point in our lives. Just as seeds grow in the dark soil and a tree draws strength from deep roots, so can we, when we live our lives rooted in Jesus.
A Listening Year
My word for this year has been ‘listen’ which I have tried to do in many areas of life. A favorite of my listening verses for this year has been James 1:19-25:
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (emphasis added)
At the beginning of my listening year, I focused on the be quick to listen, slow to speak part since that was my main struggle. I then focused on the “don’t just listen, do” part. But as we close out the year, I’m noting the humbly accept the word God has planted part.
While listening, I repeatedly felt called to be more rooted to Jesus, so the planting reference struck a chord. The symbolism of planting and a tree with deep roots is used often in the Bible. Jesus taught with the parable of the farmer sowing seed and its explanation , He references Himself as living water, and the there are plenty of rooted references, my favorite being:
But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. ~Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT
We live by a creek and I often sit and marvel at tree roots reaching into the water as their source of life. I envision having strong, deep roots to sustain me. I’ve experienced unexpected strength in difficult times knowing it was God providing what I needed when I needed it. But I don’t want to simply be sustained. I want to be a strong, thriving tree that never stops producing fruit. I want to cultivate roots connected to the Living Water of Jesus to produce the fruit and life He planned for me.
This year I’ve learned to listen more than I speak (although I’m still a work in progress). I’ve acted on that listening to support and encourage others, step into new opportunities in my church, and most importantly, grow closer to God as I notice His handiwork. Noticing the God things in my and other’s lives leads me to my word and focus for next year: rooted. A thriving root system needs to seek its source just like those trees by the riverbank. So, my focus will be seeking, staying connected, and living rooted in Jesus.
Whether serendipitous or difficult, let’s remember all our moments are God things as He works everything for our good. Let’s listen, act, and live rooted in Jesus. As we do, we’ll find unexpected strength and understanding to live a fruitful life. What a good thing and even more importantly, a God thing.