There's always a seed before there's a rose. The more that it rains, the more I will grow.

In a social-media-crazy-world of likes and follows and numbers, I often find myself reaching for the next fill-in-the-blank. We’re endlessly rung-climbing and I’m not really sure where any of us think we’re going. We’re just climbing up and up and growing out and out and working hard to be bigger and better, more this or that or who even knows.

If we’re all trees, it sure can seem like we’re more focused on branches than we are the roots that keep us standing when the storms come, the roots that nourish through every season.

I’m so guilty of this.

I’m guilty of spending more time on Twitter than reading the Word. I’m guilty of reaching out before soaking up, which only results in pouring out myself instead of Jesus — and no one needs any more of me.

You must feel the fullness of your own pitcher before you trust the pouring out of yourself. — Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

I won’t waste your time talking about how trees grow or how when rains fall and winds blow, branches wave and leaves toss and turn. I don’t need to explain that it’s the roots of a tree that enable the branches to hang on and eventually produce fruit.

You don’t need a nature lesson.

No, my point is this: I often feel a whole lot like that tree being blown to and fro. The wind comes and I’m swaying back and forth; the storms rage and I droop down; the season changes and everything looks different and yet at the core everything remains the same.

Sometimes when you're in a dark place, you think you've been buried... but actually, you've been planted.

There are seasons when we’re blooming and producing and life is evident to the human eye. We serve and give, write and create. Skies are blue, birds are singing, and everything is beautiful.

And there are seasons when we’re stripped bare, hanging on with both hands, feet planted in the depths, determined not to give up as we wait for spring.

Like the rings of a tree, we grow and change and become. It’s supposed to work this way. But before the branches appear, the roots must grow. They stretch and reach and as they do, the tree grows upward and outward. In order for the branches to produce, a miracle must happen in the depths of the dirt and darkness.

I don’t know how anyone survives the winds and the rains of life without being rooted in Christ. I don’t want to write or offer a cliche, but I know no other way to say it: There’s not a chance in the world that I could walk through life without Him as my foundation. I would literally bend and snap (no, not in the Legally Blonde way). Quite simply, I would not produce anything worth a second glance because I wouldn’t have the strength to weather the storm.

Sometimes when you're in a dark place, you think you've been buried... but actually, you've been planted.

I could list life’s storms here for you, the experiences and moments and words that have swept through and done their share of damage. I could talk to you about health scares and broken relationships and lies disguised as truths that whisper in the middle of the night.

But you have your own story and I doubt you have any trouble thinking of the dark places, the times you’ve felt buried in the dirt, swept up in the storm, or tossed by the winds.

I’m not here to warn you of the coming rains. I’m not writing to tell you to watch out for the wind that’s blowing by and shaking everything up.

You’ve lived enough life to have several rings on your tree. You’ve started small and grown tall and reached out through the changing seasons. You already know how this works.

It’s going to rain. Storms will come, the wind will blow and as the seasons change we’ll hold on and let go.

I’m writing today to remind you that roots come before branches.

There's always a seed before there's a rose. The more that it rains, the more I will grow.

Before we can reach out and encourage or build up another, we must be firmly planted and soaking up the Truth. You might write a book or lead a Bible study or bare fruit that leads you to stand on stages, but you’ll produce nothing worthwhile if you aren’t rooted.

Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried… but actually, you’ve been planted.

When all is dark and the rains fall, we can be swept up in the confusion and the doubt. I’ve walked through depression and fought against . (Chapter 7 of my book is, after all, about living in between darkness and light.)

Storms are messy, complicated things. I’ve learned this, though: The rains that drench and weigh us down are the very same rains that grow and strengthen.

You are growing.

You may be swaying, you may be unsure, and you may be doubting. This might not be a season in which you produce anything. Maybe this is when you just hang on. Maybe this is when you plant your feet, look upward even as the rains fall, hold onto Truth, and focus on roots before branches.

You’ll bare fruit in time. Seasons will change, the winds will shift, and the storm will pass.

Sometimes when you're in a dark place, you think you've been buried... but actually, you've been planted.

Let your roots grow deep. Sink into the depths and hang on. There will come a day when this is just one more ring, one more story to tell that points back to Him. But for now? For now we soak in the Truth. We fill up our pitchers and stop trying to climb rungs. We sit in the depths, we hold hands with both grief and happiness, and we remember.

Roots before branches.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7, NLT

{Updated to add: Today I heard For Your Splendor by Christy Nockels for the first time ever. And I cried and raised my hands because wow, just… wow. Please listen.}

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the text on the images comes from the song Roots Before Branches by Room For Two