“I snuck a birthday party invitation into the garbage today,” I confessed to my husband. “It was awesome.”
Recently I’ve been on this quest for fewer because the rat race of “more” has run its course. For too long I had a shallow grasp on many things but craved a deeper focus on a few things. So I decided to start reigning in not only our family calendar but also my home, van, email accounts, and finances. If you have fewer, you’ll get deeper—it’s a confusing but wonderful idea. Upon realizing this truth, the phrase “fewer, deeper” became my filter whenever I had to make a decision, and it echoed throughout my day at every fork in the road.
However, even as I worked on fewer, the deeper part was still lacking. I was organized (for the time being) but not necessarily grounded. Somehow better management of my time and possessions, and a clean vehicle, didn’t magically bring real spiritual peace. I still felt limited by what churned on the inside: insecurities, doubt, fear, and restlessness. I was definitely clearing space, but it was just making me sort of a minimalist jerk with an attitude that said, “I don’t need your goodie bags or your birthday parties because our family is being intentional. Thank you very much.” What I really needed was a de-cluttering of the heart and an invitation for God to do something in the space that remained.
How to Grow Deep
It turns out God had something to say about this. I began studying references to depth in Scripture, and I was repeatedly pointed to the roots of a tree. This is not a new comparison, but Ephesians 3:17–19 was a passage that unlocked a whole new understanding of what I desired:
Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
I did a bit of research and found tree root behavior fascinating. In fact, I subscribed to a slew of root blogs (because, yes, there are such things as blogs about roots). My new hobby led me to root expert James Urban who says that trees have the capacity to grow deep roots but usually don’t because their soil is packed too tight or lacks proper drainage; therefore, shallow-rooted trees are more typical. Deep-rooted trees are incredibly rare.
Could God’s love really be the difference between a shallow-rooted life and a deeply-rooted one? Ephesians 3:17–19 says these things will happen when we are rooted in the love of God:
1. We will be strengthened. A tree is nothing without its foundation; it has no nourishment and no anchor. Life may be wreaking havoc above the surface, as it often does, but our roots remain fed and secure in God’s love. But you can’t always see this kind of strength. We might appear to be a beautiful, green, successful, and symmetrical tree, but we’re planted in lousy soil with roots an inch deep. Or we might look leafless, crooked, and dingy—with a bag stuck in our branches—but we have perfect soil and roots 30 feet deep. Which tree is better off?
The more deeply we pursue him, the stronger we become—no matter what the season or circumstances.
2. We begin to understand the size of our God. The less we try to pack more and more into our existing foundation and the more we grow in God, the bigger he will be to us. He will be enough—more than enough. His magnitude will shatter the convenient spaces and tidy boxes we try to keep him in, and our minds will hardly comprehend it. Have you ever tried to
understand eternity? That’s the kind of awe I mean.
3. We will experience Jesus in a way that surpasses knowledge. We’ll start to know his love is a reliable foundation not because we can rationalize it in our minds but because we see it unfolding before our very eyes. It becomes real. We will go from knowing things about him to discerning his voice in our day-to-day lives.
4. We will be filled with fullness. Filled with happiness? No. Stuff? Nope. Friends, fame, health, money? Still no. He is the definition of fullness. No record-breaking amount of “likes,”
professional accolades, organized houses, or well-behaved kids will be enough. (Trust me, I tried the tidy house trend. It just gets messy again.)
We can keep cramming into our foundation substitutes and add-ons disguised as fullness, but they will either starve us or stuff us. As our soil, God alone can provide the perfect density (fullness) that firmly secures but still gives room to grow, to push our identity deeper into him.
He is a big God and a firm foundation who loves us enough to invite us into a deeper relationship with himself. When he is the one guiding our discernment, fewer can indeed lead to deeper.
Sandy Hamstra lives in the city of Chicago with her husband and three small kids. She blends being a stay-at-home mom with leading in women’s ministry and engaging her community. She writes at FewerDeeper.com about clearing space for greater depth and is the coordinator and host of Rooted Chicago on May 9. For more information visit FewerDeeper.com/rootedchicago.