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These Roots are Made for Walkin'

Getting your roots done use to be a horror story.

Sitting in the salon chair, Bart doing his usual bang-up job (a shameless styling pun) I once again had a familiar anthem in my head. Watching him take down roots like a skilled chopper or painter, as both skills apply, Nancy Sinatra’s classic was ringing in my ears more than his high pitch hair dryer. “These roots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these roots are gonna walk all over you...” Yeah, I know. It was Boots, not Roots…and every girl of 1965 coveted Nancy’s. Oh to rock a pair of black leather boots with hot pants, the dream of a generation, unfortunately even for old ladies who had no business with boots or hot pants. Please! Didn’t they have a daughter to say, “Mom. No.” -?! I remember seeing Nancy do her racy little boot dance on the Ed Sullivan Show... it was a really good sheewwe, and if you are too young, you don’t get that one. Nancy and a band of gals in boots took over the stage and conquered the world with those sassy shoes and lyrics. So back to my roots. It really is the root of what I’m after - The Hebraic ones, that is, and they are scriptural roots for all generations made for walking. Ever wonder why the Apostle Paul used the word walk so many times in his writing? Walk in love…Walk in light…Walk in the spirit…walk circumspectly, with a watchful kind of wisdom…walk in righteousness…walk worthy of the Lord. He adds conversely that peace and freedom from condemnation comes to those who do not walk after fleshly lusts of mind or body, who do not walk in darkened minds alienated from God, or who do not walk as other Gentiles walk, in the course of this world. He and Peter talk a lot about how to walk! As good Hebrews who had studied Torah and had been reared since childhood in it, they understood the relevance of the walk.

Halak is a core Hebrew verb, used as walk, sometimes as go, abundantly in Scripture. Where they went, how they went, when they went, was a key concept in how the children of Israel obeyed the instructions of Yahweh. The Lord’s conversations with Abraham were about walking with Him (“Arise, walk the land.…walk before Me blamelessly,” –Genesis 13, 17). Moses capitalized on their walk in the recorded words of Deuteronomy, urging the people to “love the Lord God and walk in His ways… walk with the Lord and fear Him…) Today even modern Judaism reflects Halakhic law, the governing instructions and practical ways of living a life of faith. Our faith, our relationship with the Lord & His Word are about how we walk it out. But what we didn’t know hurt us. When Christian leaders of centuries gone by severed us from our Hebraic roots, imposing false festivals upon the feasts of the Lord, changing calendars to reflect a Romanized, Hellenized world as opposed to a biblically oriented one, changing Sabbaths and denigrating the importance of Israel and her children – were all very costly in our understanding and in the family relationships. In some places it created a Frankenstein – a body allegedly alive, walking and talking (sort of) but far from the living, breathing, warm and human kind of man with spirit and soul. Christianity morphed into a walk that could be “whatever felt good,” in the name of forgiveness, and without the divine appointments in the road of life to meet that Creator & Father as He designed. The lost roots attempted to kill one tree and grow another, but leave the tree to God. Trust me. He knows what He planted, and that’s what He meant to grow.

My own elementary study of Hebrew opened so much to me. Slowly, as I studied the aleph-bet and some vocabulary, I began to see depths of things I had not seen before. Conversations between Abram (then Abraham) and God took on richer and fuller meaning. Things God valued and the depths of His love and faithfulness literally appeared to greater extent and in precious ways through the study of those Hebraic roots. The history, the language, the culture and geography filled in so many puzzle pieces in my search for more of Him. These are the nourishing roots that feed a vibrant life with God.

Thankfully, growing numbers of believers are finding the rich & needful connections in the root we share with our Jewish brethren. Allow the Teacher (the Holy Spirit) to open your heart and the spirit of your mind in study. Dig deeper. Take Paul at his word to “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) Then let it change how you walk, so that your walk can change the world. Kick off the boots and look for the roots you can walk in.

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