What’s wrong with this plant? I had just pushed it out of it’s container moments before, ready to plant it when I noticed the roots were root bound. The poor little thing looked fabulous on top but it was screaming, “Help me! I’m gonna die soon if someone doesn’t give my roots more room!”

Of course, I had to come up with a spiritual application and I sent the photo to my blogger/writer friend, Dana Rausch, asking her to come up with her own application. Then we could share with you two different perspectives of the same theme. After you read mine, hop over to Dana’s blog “Apply Your Heart” for a different idea. You’ll love every one of her blog posts.

But the good news is, there’s a reward for reading our posts. We’re offering a drawing and the winner will receive two books:
Beth Moore’s brand new book: Audacious
my book: Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today

Find out how to enter your name at the end of my post.

Now back to the root bound plant.

As I thought about that little plant’s root-bound status, I thought of years ago when I looked spiritually beautiful in my crowded spiritual clay pot but afraid to get out of my rut. Let me explain.

For years I’d been very, very (can I say “very” again?) faithful to have my “QT”–quiet time with God every morning, well, most mornings, Monday through Friday. The kids would leave for school and I’d grab my Bible, journal, calendar, prayer cards, and devotional book. I’d sit in the same side of the couch and have a fabulous time with God. Of course, it was fabulous. Being with God whether I “felt” Him or not, was wonderful–even when He convicted me of sin. I truly loved it and depended upon it. That’s good, right? Of course, I thought.

And I had a specific routine, particularly for my prayer time. I followed ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. During my “supplication,” I had index cards for the different things or people I prayed for on specific days. Monday, I prayed for my family. Tuesday, I prayed for my extended family. Wednesday, I prayed for missionaries. Thursday, I prayed for friends. Friday, I prayed for my ministry and ministry friends.

If it was Monday, I’d pull out my index cards assigned to my family. Each card had someone’s name. I would write down a specific request or a verse I was praying for them. At times, I could even go back and note when a prayer request had been answered.

It was all very structured and wonderful. But I noticed a certain 
“root boundedness” begin to crowd out my freedom, creativity, and being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. One time, as I pulled out the cards on Monday, I remembered that my sister had asked for prayer for something. I thought, “Well, her day for prayer is tomorrow so I’ll wait until then.” Of course, I recognized right away how silly that was, but I was sincerely tempted to wait. 

I allotted an hour for this special time with God but when the hour was done, I almost felt like He got tucked away with the Bible, prayer cards, etc. I’d done my duty and went off believing I was prepared for the day.

I also felt guilty if I didn’t have my QT–Quiet Time with God–those five days a week. Doing something different–like singing praises for a majority of the time–seemed inappropriate. I had to include everything I usually did. 

Now, of course, I prayed during the day but somehow that didn’t seem as powerful or empowering. The concentrated time felt most “real” and “spiritual.”

But then I began to see how what God had initiated had become my  routine like a plant’s root-bound structure. I had little “room” to do something different and I felt uncertain if the Holy Spirit nudged me to do something different. 

Of course, even my “routine” was valuable, powerful, and transforming. In no way am I saying it wasn’t important or that God didn’t inspire it. I would actually recommend such a format for anyone looking to start or for a plan for a QT.

But what God had inspired became an “Idol.” I worshipped the structure and the good feelings it brought from performing and accomplishing rather than worshipping God, who wanted to lead me and direct me moment by moment. I didn’t need to perform “doing it right.” In some ways, the routine was strangling me just like that plant’s pot. Suffocating because I depended upon my routine, not freedom in Christ or God’s unconditional love.

When Larry and I were buying the new plants, we talked to a very knowledgeable nursery employee. He told us, “Please put these plants in the ground. You can’t believe how many people bring a plant back to us saying, ‘I bought this about a year ago and here’s the receipt. I want a refund. It died.'”

He continued, “The plant was still in its original pot. Of course, we still gave the refund but it should have been planted in order for its roots–and the plant–to flourish. No wonder it died.”

Spiritually, I needed to let my heart’s roots be planted and spread out. Over time, I made some changes, both in my motives and in my practices. At a heart level, I felt more freedom to ask God what He wanted me to do in my Time with Him. 

In my practices, I didn’t always do it right away in the morning. I realized I believed that if I didn’t do it right away, the day would quickly pass without doing it. But that pointed to how I was doing it in my own power, and didn’t need to ask God to help me do it in His timing. My power came from “getting it over with so that I can go do my real work: writing and ministry.” I had checked it off my list and performed so God must be pleased and would empower me to write well for Him. 

I also did something radical. Sometimes I chose not to have a specific time with God just to remind myself that yes, my relationship benefited from those spiritual disciplines, but my relationship with God wasn’t dependent upon it. I was “in Christ,” because of what Christ did for me on the cross, not because I performed in my perfectionistic or structured way. I can abide every second of the day whether I’m sitting in the corner of the couch having my QT or out driving around.

Now, I don’t always have an hour-long QT five days a week. Sometimes it’s a few moments and sometimes it’s for several hours. And I’m much more alive and growing in dependence and awareness of God and His Spirit’s presence and involvement in every moment of the day. 

Again, I highly recommend having a structured time, especially if you’re just starting some spiritual disciplines. But be careful to not let your spiritual roots become root bound. 

Right before I planted that root bound flower, I dug into the roots to loosen them. The root system might not have absorbed water and nutrients without breaking it up a bit. 

If you feel like any of your spiritual disciplines need some “breaking up,” trust God. (Tweet that!) Trust in Him, that He will be gentle as He guides you. Like my beautiful growing flowers, you may find that you’ll be more spiritually beautiful because you’re no longer structured to death.

This last photo shows them flourishing. They are happy and spreading their roots in freedom.

Now here’s how the drawing works:

  1. After reading my story, jump over to Dana’s blog and read her story.  Leave a comment for 4 total points (2 points for each blog) or 2 points for just being here.
  2. Share it on Facebook for 5 points. 
  3. Click here (tweet that!) for 3 points.
  4. Leave your name and total number of points in the comment section on either blog. Or email me: KathyCollardMiller AT gmail DOT com.
  5. Drawing closes Wednesday evening,  Oct 21st.  The winner will be announced on our blogs Thursday, Oct 22. 

Remember to hop over to Dana’s blog to enjoy her post and put your name and points into her comment section, if you didn’t do it here.