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Ground Level

Aug 28, 2022

A few weeks ago, Trisha wanted to mulch the flower beds in our front yard. It was blazing hot outside and the last thing I really wanted to do was landscape. But for her, landscaping is her escape; it is something she really enjoys. So I went to Home Depot and bought 12 bags of mulch. As I was unloading them, I noticed something that I thought was odd. She wasn’t just removing the old mulch from the flowerbeds to prepare for the new mulch (like I would have done); she was taking a shovel and digging up by the roots every weed and every blade of grass. At one point, I said, “That seems like a lot of work.” She said, “If I don’t dig it up, it will just come right back.”

This is a principle that has been so true in my life. So often in my life, I have settled for removing what was visible above ground. I have noticed a problem, realized a sin issue, come face to face with a character flaw and have been content to cut it off at ground level. The problem is, it just comes right back.

Here is the tension…digging below ground level will cost you. Uncovering the root of your addiction, the root of your anger, the root of your lust, the root of your divorce, the root of your affair, the root of your debt, the root of your dysfunctional dating life will be painful. It will cost you.

So what happens for most of us is that we encounter some pain or embarrassment or shame from a mistake that is visible to others and we do our best to address it. We admit it; we tell our small group; we go to a few counseling sessions; we find an accountability partner; we get porn blocking software for our computer; we take an anger management class; we stop dating for 6 months…we endure the pain of the consequences of our mistake.

We promise we’ll never do that again; give in to that again; choose that again; be tempted by that again; compromise that again. In our hearts we really, really mean it. Then a few days, weeks, months later, we find ourselves back in the place we promised we’d never be.

Simply settling for the pain of our consequences impairs our desire to pursue the greater pain of healing and restoration. In order for something to be restored, it must be torn apart. But most of the time, we don’t really desire restoration as much as we do pain-free living. So we struggle with the same things over and over again; we fall into the same dysfunctional friendships and relationships and marriages. We make the same promises over and over, and wonder why God isn’t powerful enough to help us overcome our issues.

The life you long for is available. It comes with the cost of going below ground level and digging to the root. It will take more time. It will cost you more. It will be more painful than you can ever imagine. But the pursuit of this pain will actually lead to authentic life.

Have you been disappointed with the restoration you’ve found by settling for ground level?