Rooted and Established in Love



Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Ephesians 3:14–21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Hydrangeas are fascinating plants. 

Not only are they beautiful, but they can change according to their conditions. My wife has taught me that if we change the acidity of the soil in which hydrangeas are growing, the ones outside our kitchen window that elicit oohs and ahs from all who visit each year, we can actually change the color of the blooms themselves. If I sprinkle enough coffee grounds on the soil throughout the year, the hydrangea petals will change from pink to purple, to a vivid blue. Honestly, it’s like an explosion of color right outside our window each May!

For the hydrangea, the soil can change the flower. That’s not all the soil does, as we know. The soil is what gives the plant sustenance and life. If the soil is right, the plant will thrive. If the soil is wrong, the plant will wither. And this is especially true: if the plant is not firmly rooted and established in the soil that gives it life, the plant will surely die.

In Ephesians 3:14–21, Paul wants his family in Christ to be “rooted and established” in the nutritious soil of the love of God. N. T. Wright says this of the prayer:

Essentially, it is a prayer that the young Christians may discover the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It means knowing God as the all-loving, all-powerful father; it means putting down roots into that love. . . . It means having that love turn into a well-directed and effective energy in one’s personal life. And it means the deep and powerful knowing and loving into which the Christian is invited to enter; or—to put the same thing another way—the knowing and loving which should enter into the Christian. Paul, quite clearly, knows this in his own experience. He longs that those who have come to put their faith in Jesus should know it too.1

Ben Witherington adds: “One can grasp it [Christ’s love] only through experience, and even when one experiences it one is left groping for words to describe it. The ultimate goal of being rooted in love and grasping its meaning is to ‘be filled in all the fullness of God.’”2

Like the soil of those hydrangeas, the type of love in which we are rooted has everything to do with the type of person we are becoming. There are many different kinds of lesser-love soils out there diminishing the color and health of people’s lives.

Putting our roots deep into the love of the Father for us—resulting in a Person-to-person union (knowing) and intimacy (loving)—is the way to being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”


Lord Jesus, I am in you and you are in me. Like a plant growing in your garden, bearing the kinds of blossoms and fragrance (2 Cor. 2:15) that rise from the soil in which I am rooted, I want to be rooted firmly in your love. Take me deeper into union with you, so the flowers of my life express your heart and character in the world. In Christ Jesus, I pray, amen.


If you were to check the health of the soil in which you have planted your life, how would you describe its quality? Is it the healthy soil of the Father’s kind and healing love for you? Or is it a mix of that soil with some other soils—lesser-love soils that may actually be hindering your growth? What soil do you want to be rooted and established in today, and why?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt 


  1. N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 39–40.
  2. Ben Witherington, The Letters to Philemon, the Colossians, and the Ephesians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Captivity Epistles (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007), 275.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. When problems come
    And our hope dries out
    Our roots are forced to
    Grow deeper and stronger
    To reach the water
    That flows from Jesus,
    Christ in you, the hope
    That releases glory,
    And roots and grounds us
    In the depths of His love.

    Often a breakthrough
    Requires we go through
    Things that break us down
    So we’re desperate enough
    To let God get through
    The wall of our pride.

  2. As an avid organic gardener myself, this particular posting certainly comes across loud and clear. We, like that hydrangea are totally dependent on the soil that we are rooted in, for strength, sustenance, and the ability to glorify God by the way we bloom. Unhealthy attractions, like unhealthy soil can, and ultimately will poison our souls. This why we need to pray this prayer for ourselves as well as for other’s within our faith community, daily. Thank you for this reminder.

    1. As a chemist, I also love this metaphor of the hydrangea and found it so interesting that the plant can thrive in two different acidities. While I do not know the specific molecule that is responsible for the flower’s color, I can tell you that it is most likely two forms of essentially the same molecule that is responsible for both colors (that is, one form contains an extra hydrogen ion than the other). Anyway, what I took away from today’s post if I might extend this metaphor is that God’s Love can thrive in more than one good soil condition, although the soil must still be good. I wonder if these related but decidedly not identical soil conditions could represent the different peoples of God, the different traditions of the church, or fascinatingly perhaps that God’s Love can be found in many contexts even ones we may find initially surprising!

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