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Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col 2:6-7

In front of my childhood home near Phoenix, Arizona stands a lone diminutive Saguaro cactus. Saguaros are famous for their many arms and huge height. An adult Saguaro can grow up to 60 feet tall and can weigh close to 5,000 lb. These majestic organisms dot the landscape of the foothills of the McDowell Mountains were I grew up. They are truly the sentinels of the desert.

Anyone driving by my dad’s house today probably doesn’t give much thought to the 6 foot tall midget cactus in his front yard, but I know something they may not; you see, that Saguaro is about my age. These incredible plants have a 200 year lifespan and typically only grow to 5 or 6 feet in height their first 50 years of life. My whole life that little dude has been doing one thing, putting out roots. To be able to withstand the desert winds and support their gargantuan size, Saguaros must grow a massive and intricate root system in the thin, rocky topsoil.

In the book of Colossians the Apostle Paul instructs the Colossian believers to make sure they are rooted and built up in Christ. After two decades of student ministry, I can tell you one thing, real sustained spiritual growth takes deep roots, and deep roots take time. The same is true of ministry organizations. Next spring, Ascend will celebrate ten years of existence. We haven’t had flashy extravagant growth in that time, but just like that little cactus, we have been putting down roots and we are here to stay. Barring an act of God, that little Saguaro will outlive me by at least a hundred years. I will not be around to see it reach its full potential. But I trust it is well planted and will continue to grow and thrive because of what is going on beneath the surface. I also trust Ascend will continue to grow by the grace of God as long as we stay rooted and grounded in faith in Jesus Christ. I may never personally see the fruit of the thousands of seeds that have been planted, that others are watering. I may not even notice the gradual growth, but I trust in the sovereignty of our everlasting God, and his ability to make the most amazing things grow in the most difficult of places.

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