God cares more about our character than about our comfort.

-Rick Warren

I have been repotting plants that are long overdue for new places to live, so the term rootbound is heavy on my mind (and back).

Plants become rootbound when they are left in one pot too long. The roots continue to grow, and gradually the nutrients are depleted and there is little soil for the plant.  The plant may continue to look healthy, and it may even continue to bloom for a while, but it really needs attention.

You can tell if a plant is rootbound when you attempt to remove it from the pot, and it retains the shape of the pot.  Rootbound plants are not unusual; in fact, many plants that you purchase from a store are rootbound when you bring them home.  That is one reason it is important to transplant them soon after purchase.

If you remove a rootbound plant from its pot and just slap it in a larger pot, the roots will continue to grow in the same tangled up directions.  This means that the plant may not fully utilize the soil in which it is placed.  Haphazard gardener that I am, I have pulled up plants where the entire root ball looked exactly the same as it did when I transplanted it from its store pot to my container.

And then I wonder why it did not flourish.

Dealing with a rootbound plant is not pretty.  In fact, it requires a certain amount of bravery to take a lovely flower and pull its roots apart before planting.  Sometimes the gardener must use a knife to cut the roots so that they can be spread out, and scissors can come in handy to cut off the lengthy roots at the bottom.   The reward, however, it a healthier plant that can flourish and sustain through the changing seasons.

I am not qualified to give gardening advice here; I was kind when I called myself a haphazard gardener.  I have been thinking about this a lot, though, and I find some similarities to my own life.

There have been times in my life that I settled into a routine that became so comfortable that I no longer had to stretch to complete my duties each day.

I was planning my work and working my plan, content to rise, work, worship, sleep, repeat day after day.  My community of others was small and controlled, and I was satisfied.

But I was not growing. I was rootbound.

Others may or may not have noticed.  To be honest, I didn’t notice until the Master Gardener decided to repot me with new responsibilities, new community, new schedule.  The repotting process was not something I sought, and it was not comfortable.

Just like I had to beat on some of my pots to dislodge the rootbound plants, and just like I had to cut apart some of the root systems, God used trial and challenge and discipline to jolt me out of my routine and focus my eyes on Him alone.

I have ferns that I have repotted numerous times.  Each time I attack them, I end up with multiple plants from each existing plant.  I spread their roots out in new soil, fertilize and water them, and watch them go.  They usually look pretty rough the first few weeks, but then they take off.  I notice new shoots and greener color, and the new pots begin to fill with growth.  It is amazing.

When I think of God’s repotting process, I think of the numerous examples He gives us in scripture.  Think about how God worked in Joseph’s life, in Abraham’s, and we could go on to mention Moses, Paul, Peter, Matthew, and so many others.  God is in the growing business, even when it means repotting rootbound people.

God has had to repot me several times in my life.  Each time stretched me, and each time I lost some old roots that were hampering growth in my life – things like resignation, self-sufficiency, self-dependence, apathy in my comfort zone, pride.  Each time He provided soil to support new growth – things like a community of believers, fresh eyes for His word, more focused prayer, new challenges in ministry.   Sometimes, my new pot has required a physical move, and sometimes it has required a heart move.

I don’t have to be rootbound.  If I am living in God’s plan, the place or places of planting will sustain growth.  I don’t want to stagnate and allow mold to grow because I am so comfortable in my pot that I don’t want to move.  God doesn’t want that for me either.

Healthy plants grow and produce blooms.

Healthy Christians do, too.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.


That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;


Repotted for spring growth

Have you ever experienced repotting?


6 comments on “Rootbound”
  1. anitashope says:

    I think maybe we all experience re-potting if we allow God to trim off the dead stuff. We have to be willing and allowing him to work. Loved the picture of the tree.


    1. gracespeaker says:

      Trimming off the dead stuff – love it! This cuts to the chase of what I was trying to say. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. scribelady says:

    I watched my mother re-pot houseplants many times. I like how you led from re-potting of plants into spiritual re-potting; it made the spiritual side easier to understand. Thanks for a well-written post.
    I reblogged this on Country Ripples.


    1. gracespeaker says:

      Thank you for reading and reposting. My mother used to cringe when she watched me repot plants. She was a much more meticulous gardener than I am. I am thankful that God is our Master Gardener.


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