Oy gevalt! Vhat a pain in mein tuchus!
As if closing on a house weren’t taxing enough (literally and figuratively), try doing it across state lines!
The last time my wife and I moved, it was from one suburb to a neighboring one. Piece of cake.
Relatively speaking, of course. We still had to take care of all the details apart from the closing. You know, little things like the ol’ post office change of address, utilities disconnect and start, new driver’s license, insurance changes. The usual.
Now try moving into a new community in Florida!
Don’t get me wrong. The weather in Naples, FL makes the struggle worthwhile, but what a chore it’s been! It’s only “the hope of glory” (living in the state of Just Another Perfect Day In Paradise) that fires us up to press on through the process of putting down roots.
Finding a place to store a boat.
Change of address.
The closing arrangements between two states.
The actual close.
Another change of address.
New bank account.
Florida home insurance.
Florida car insurance.
Home Owners Association (HOA) orientation.
New driver’s license.
Car registration and plates.
Registration with the state and county through the Declaration of Domicile.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork…
Other stuff I know I’ve done, but can’t remember. Frankly, it’s all a blur at this point.
And finally… the beach pass! That lovely patch of plastic that sticks inside the car windshield that allows you to park at the beach for free! Any time you want! Sadly, I can’t get that completed right now because my relevant papers are stuck in a POD in Ft. Meyers. I probably won’t see the beach pass until the beginning of June.
This getting rooted thing takes work!
But without buckling down and doing all of this work we’re 1) not official residents, 2) not eligible for the Florida benefits (special discounts for residents), 3) still functioning according to the state we left, 4) not able to take on the responsibilities of our new state.
1) If Jeanne and I are not rooted residents, we can be easily uprooted because we have nothing to legally connect us here. But if I want to stay, then I have to send down those roots to anchor ourselves into our new life.
2) If Jeanne and I are not rooted residents, we’re not eligible for the state and local benefits like free parking at the beach!
3) If Jeanne and I are not rooted residents, we’re still regarded as being on the tax rolls as Minnesota residents. And while I really miss my family and friends (truth!), I can’t say I’m sad to separate from Minnesota’s nationally known government tyranny and foolishness.
4) If Jeanne and I are not rooted residents, we’re not bona fide community members, willing to take on the responsibilities and rights (and pride) therein.
As I was reflecting on this whole “putting down roots” thing, a verse popped into my mind.
“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:6-7).
I love how the Lord uses our life experiences to speak spiritual truths to us. Check this out!
Getting saved, spiritually born-again, coming to Jesus, or swearing allegiance to the One True God (however you want to put it) is a profound, interdimensional, “cross-country” move. In this same letter to the Colossians, Paul puts the spiritual “interstate move” this way,
“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).
(Yeah, I was going to make a snarky comment about which two states I felt were the “domain of darkness” and the “kingdom of the Son he loves,” but I’ll just leave it right here.)
I began to see a great sermon illustration comparing getting rooted in the faith with our experience of getting rooted in a new state. So, let’s play with this per the four points above.
1) If we’re not rooted in the faith, we’re easily uprooted because we have nothing to firmly anchor our minds, will, and emotions in our new life with Jesus.
2) If we’re not rooted in the faith, we’re not eligible for the kingdom benefits. You know, little things like “every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)! (I wonder if that includes a beach pass in the world to come?)
3) If we’re not rooted in the faith, we may be in God’s kingdom, but we still live like we’re still residents back in Satan’s dominion of darkness. And don’t think Satan won’t take advantage of that to attack us, beat us down, and make us miserable and ineffective. Beloved saint, you’re free from his domain! Declare your domicile in God’s kingdom and live it!
4) If we’re not rooted in the faith, we’re not thinking like bona fide community members, willing to take on the responsibilities and rights and joy therein.
So how do we get rooted in the faith? According to Paul, “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Romans 10:17).
So, to get rooted in the faith, we need to embrace, consume, absorb and wallow in God’s truth.
I came across a great quote from Ben Shapiro the other day. “There is no such thing as ‘your truth.’ There is the truth and your opinion.” (Mic drop!)
Like it or not, I’m required to jump through the hoops to establish the truth of my residency in Florida. Otherwise, it’s just my opinion and my opinion means squat in the eyes of the state.
It’s the same thing with residency in God’s kingdom. I’m required to jump through the hoops (faith in God’s plan through Jesus) to establish my residency in the “kingdom of the Son He loves.” Otherwise, my claim to eternal life with Jesus is just my opinion and in the eyes of the Judge, my opinion means squat.
Real Faith is based on God’s truth. Fake Faith is based on human opinion.
Real Faith is a firm trust in God, not a Fake Faith of a squishy, mal-formed, mutated conglomeration of a few biblical truths jumbled with “philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8). That’s still just human opinion!
Real Faith makes our commitment to Jesus firm and secure, and strong in the wind of opposition or difficulty. Fake Faith has little to no commitment to Jesus, it’s wobbly and insecure and easily toppled in the wind of opposition or difficulty. Jesus shared this truth when He said, “And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root and is short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21).
Speaking of persecution, Real Faith is the faith of the Persecuted Church where their very lives depend on the truth. Sadly, Fake Faith is the faith of the 1st Church of Earthly Convenience where the members’ lives are based on opinion. And when the wind blows? Buh-bye, baby! Fake Faithers are the first to whine and cry when difficulties arise.
To be fair and transparent, I’m not saying I’m some “Giant of the Faith.” In fact, the troubles of getting rooted in our new home state have been a constant windstorm of difficulties and chores. Did I get frustrated? Yes. Did I get angry? Yes. But what I learned when I went to the Lord about it is every jab of anger or upset simply revealed my actual root depth. There was no condemnation, just a reminder from the Holy Spirit that I needed to grow deeper in my faith, in my trust in Jesus.
This getting rooted in the faith thing takes work! A lot of work!
Why go through this rooting in the faith thing? Because it establishes us in the hope of glory as we look forward to “Just Another Perfect Day In Paradise!”
How do we do this rooting in the faith thing? Get a handle on the truth of God’s word. Hear it, read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it daily. (Hat tip to the Navigators, “a ministry that shares the gospel of Jesus and helps people grow in their relationship with Him through Life-to-Life® discipleship, creating spiritual generations of believers.” (Read more)
How do we get through this rooting in the faith thing? Let the Holy Spirit do His work in us. “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Don’t worry. If you ask for the Lord’s help, He will help, and He will bring you to the finish line. “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
But, as Paul cautioned the Colossians, this will happen “if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:22-23). God’s truth roots us firmly in our residence.
In the meantime, I continue to slog through the Florida residency process.
And the best root of all – the beach pass! Yesssssssssss!