How well do you know plants? Here is a short quiz. Do all plants have leaves? Do all plants have flowers? And do all plants have roots? If you answered yes to the question of whether all plants have leaves you would have been wrong. Leaves are defined as having veins (vasculature), so plants such as ferns and algae that lack veins don’t technically have leaves. If you said that all plants have flowers, you would have been wrong again. There are a number of non-flowering plants; plants such as horsetails, ferns, conifers, and mosses. These non-flowering plants reproduce by spores rather than by seeds or pollen from flowering plants.
And if you answered that all plants have roots, you would once again be incorrect. Single-celled plants that float on water, namely green algae and some varieties of seaweed, do not have roots and they absorb water and minerals through their all their parts rather than through roots.
If you have ever tried to dig out a bush from your yard, you know that the root system usually seems to go deep and wide. The removal of the bush above the ground is often “easy” while removing the root system usually ends up being a long and tiring process. You might even think to yourself, “How can this little bush have such a big root system?” But without this complex system of epidermis, root hairs, cortex, endodermis, pericycle, and vascular tissues, the plant you are removing would not be a living plant – it would be an assortment of dead brush.
Other than water-floating plants, roots are critical for plant growth and survival. Roots serve several functions; anchor and support the plant, absorb and distribute water and minerals, storage of carbohydrates, sugars and proteins for winter survival of perennials, propagation (creation of new plants), and soil erosion.
Just as plants need energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide from the air, and water and minerals to be absorbed and distributed by their roots to survive, they also need the roots to support and anchor them in all kinds of weather conditions. We human beings also face all kinds of conditions that threaten our foundation. Life is filled with expected and unexpected twists and turns, periods of drought that leave us feeling dry and parched, seasons of endless rain that cause us to feel as if we are drowning, and canyons that seem too wide for us to cross.
Without roots to feed them, plants will die, and without roots to anchor them, they will not survive droughts or hurricanes. Without being firmly grounded in Jesus, we will not find nourishment and strength. In Scripture we see a comparison between trusting in man and trusting in God. In Jeremiah 17:5-8 we read these words…
This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots into the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought ad never fails to bear fruit.”
So, where do you find your nourishment and strength?
Dear Father, grant us all the gift of increased faith so we can have roots that go deep and wide. Amen.
New Bern, North Carolina