Article by: Sarah Koontz
I often tell my sweet, overburdened girlfriends, “You can have it all, dear. Just not all at once.”
They inevitably look at me and reply, “But it seems that you DO have it all. So, what am I missing here?”
That was a lie. They never say that. But I see the question lingering in their eyes.
Every. Single. Time.
Although I do my best to be authentic and transparent here in this online space, I’ll be the first to admit that appearances can be deceiving.
Yes, I share my victories and my sorrows with you. I try to be honest in my writing, but you are still only seeing the “before and after” shots.
It’s impossible to give you an accurate picture of all the in-between spaces—the messy, confusing, faith-filled process of relentlessly pursuing God’s best and laying aside the rest.
The purpose of today’s blog is to give you a glimpse beneath the surface of my life.
In order to accomplish this, I chose to pair my love for gardening with my passion for God’s Word and compile seven simple ways to grow a deeper faith (using the lessons I’ve learned in my garden over the years).
Growing a Deeper Faith – It’s All in the Roots
My hope is this blog post will help you grasp three simple, yet profound, universal truths about growing a deeper faith:
- We all struggle to thrive where we are planted.
- Growing deep roots takes time and a solid strategy.
- It’s impossible to garden without getting dirty.
Basically, this blog post is about roots.
Roots hide beneath the surface, but they are the life-source of the plant.
You can’t Instagram a picture of your spiritual roots, but without a solid root system, you’ll never have those glorious harvest photos everyone loves to see!
Spiritual fruit is the result of a vibrant spiritual root system. No roots = no fruit!You can’t Instagram a picture of your spiritual roots, but without a solid root system, you’ll never have those glorious harvest photos everyone loves to see!
You can have it all! You just can’t have it all at once.
If you are an avid reader of my blog, then you know how much I love gardening.
This is my sixth summer tending our massive backyard food garden and I have a confession to make…
There are more weeds than ever before.
I’m only gardening ¼ of the space I used to.
Many of my plants are looking sad for lack of care.
Our harvest will be minimal compared to past seasons.
Because, sweet friend, you can have it all! But you can’t have it all at once.
I did not start seeds in my basement at the end of February, because I was prepping our Wisdom Whispers Bible study.
I did not plant our garden until June because I was writing and videoing our Reclaim the Sabbath study.
I did not faithfully weed my garden this summer because I was diligently working on our Fall Bible study.
When I chose to launch this non-profit ministry, I made a commitment that required personal sacrifice.
Not a day goes by that I don’t mourn the many things God has asked me to set aside so I can serve Him wholeheartedly.
I’m not complaining, I’m just trying to show you what lies beneath the surface.
To help you see the struggle, the strategy, and the dirt!Not a day goes by that I don’t mourn the many things God has asked me to set aside so I can serve Him wholeheartedly.
7 Strategies to Help You Grow a Deeper Faith
The root system of a plant is where essential nutrients are absorbed and distributed to the rest of the plant.
“Because they are out of sight, roots are often out of mind,” according to information from Colorado State University Extension. “They are widely overlooked as to their significance in plant health. Eighty percent of all plant disorders include soil/root problems.”
Roots provide stability, nourishment, and longevity to the plant.
Let’s dig in and get our hands dirty!Roots provide stability, nourishment, and longevity to the plant. I’ve discovered seven things a gardener can do to ensure healthy root growth that also have inspiring spiritual correlations.
#1 – Get to Know Your Plant’s Needs
Every plant has different needs. It takes time and research to figure out the best root-growing strategy for your favorite plants.
Often a gardener will employ different strategies each season and the only way to figure out what works best is by trial and error.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”
If you want to grow a deeper faith, you must take time to discover what strategies work best for your unique “plant-type.”
But I’ll give you a tip: Building your trust and confidence in God through a consistent Bible study routine is a great place to start!
#2 – Pick the Right Spot for your Plant
Will your plant grow best in sandy soil? Or maybe it would prefer silty, peaty, chalky, or loamy soil.
Does it need full sun or partial shade? A trellis or some other support system?
The beautiful thing about gardening is many, many smart people have journeyed the path before you and willingly share their knowledge with novices. The same rings true for our faith walk.
If you want to grow a deeper faith, find a Christian mentor to teach you all they know about creating the best conditions for sustaining spiritual root systems.If you want to grow a deeper faith, find a Christian mentor to teach you all they know about creating the best conditions for sustaining spiritual root systems.
#3 – Loosen Compacted Soil
“But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered.”Matthew 13:6
Every good gardener knows roots need oxygen to stay healthy and do their job of gathering water and nutrients for the plant.
Our valley soil tends to be compact, heavy, and dense. And dense soil is not conducive to an oxygenated root system. This is why my husband faithfully tills our garden each spring.
In the same way, we need to be willing to faithfully till the compact soil in our own lives.
We must work to soften the places where we are impenetrable, impermeable, and hardened by the people who have walked all over us in the past (can I get an amen to that?).
In order to grow a deeper faith, we must pray often, asking God to reveal our “hard spots” and give us strength to walk in forgiveness and grace.In order to grow a deeper faith, we must pray often, asking God to reveal our “hard spots” and give us strength to walk in forgiveness and grace.
#4 – Add Necessary Soil Amendments
Soil amendments are materials you add to soil to improve its physical or chemical properties.
Let’s take a moment to discuss our favorite soil amendment—aged horse manure.
Friends, it’s a thing! And my plants love it. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s stinky horse poop.
Often the materials God uses to amend our “spiritual soil” stink too.
2 Corinthians 12:10 lists just a few amendments including, “weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.”
Part of growing a deeper faith is receiving these stinky amendments as a gift, trusting God is using them to enrich our soil and fortify our root system.
#5 – Fertilize the Plant Strategically
Did you know you can over-fertilize a plant? Yes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
This is a lesson Christian women desperately need to learn.
We must be strategic in the way we fertilize our spiritual roots in order to promote steady growth and reap a bountiful harvest.Yes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! This is a lesson Christian women desperately need to learn.
Master gardener, Kit Smith, once said, “Overfertilization can lead to sudden plant growth with an insufficient root system to supply adequate water and nutrients to the plant.”
Did you catch that? Sudden growth + insufficient root system = DANGER!
Slow and steady growth is the key to establishing a deeper faith. It’s so tempting to try to rush the process by any means necessary, but we must never allow our desire to produce a harvest to overshadow our need to protect and nourish our roots.
#6 – Water Young Plats Often & Mature Plants Deeply
Seedlings need to stay moist. They have shallow root systems that require frequent watering or they will quickly wither and die.
Mature plants’ root systems suffer when they are watered in the same manner. The roots are never forced to go deep because the water is always right at the surface.
In the same way, young faith needs to be tenderly nurtured and frequently watered. But mature faith demands a deeper kind of watering in order to sustain growth and assure a harvest.
To grow a deeper faith, you must dig beneath the surface of Scripture to establish a subterranean understanding of God’s character and plan for your life.To grow a deeper faith, you must dig beneath the surface of Scripture to establish a subterranean understanding of God’s character and plan for your life.
#7 – Prune and Deadhead Plants Prudently
“Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.” John 15:2
This is the most difficult truth I’m going to share with you today. The one the Lord has been forced to beat me over the head with time and again.
Pruning is a painful, yet necessary process for healthy plant growth.
We must accept the fact that we can have it all, but we can’t have it all at once. In order to grow a deep faith, we must learn how to set aside the good things in order to grab ahold of the best things.
We must cut back in order to increase. We must say no in order to say yes.We can have it all, but we can’t have it all right now. In order to grow a deep faith, we must learn how to set aside the good things in order to grab ahold of the best things.
Some Final Thoughts on Growing a Deeper Faith
Just like gardening, life is full of unexpected challenges.
In order to succeed at either, we need to be willing and able to adjust our course of action and expectations when circumstances change.
I used to cry when the hail clouds rolled in, now I just pray for faith to persevere.
I used to try to grow a picture-perfect garden, now I just praise God for any growth at all.
Life and gardening are a messy enterprise.
No human can see all that hard work we put in just beneath the surface, but God can.
And He is proud of all we have done, and are currently doing, to grow a deep faith.No human can see all that hard work we put in just beneath the surface, but God can.
So keep up the hard work, friend!
Those sustaining roots are worth the effort.