Good communicators use relevant and relatable illustrations to better emphasize and clarify the concept they are trying to express. To get his next point across, Paul chose to paint the picture of tree grafting. The stem of one plant would be cut and then another cut stem would be bound to it so that the two sets may be joined to grow together from one root system. He wanted both Jews and Gentiles to know that every person could receive the blessings of God. But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.
Before moving back to the US, I went to the Sunday Walking Market in Chiang Mai for the last time. It was the summer of 2011. Scented candles, fresh roasting meat, the sound of ancient instruments and displays of creative art were some of the things I knew I would miss, so I walked slowly, taking it all in. I found the lady who had sold me colorful stone braided necklaces in the past, and I purchased six more. This blessed her. And it began my prayer to God to please give me new friends. I was about to move to a big city that I had never lived in before and our new nest would be empty, like in our first year of marriage.
I was in a reflective mood and thought back to years earlier when our young family moved to a village on the edge of a Chinese town; we felt like outsiders. Over time though, relationships were formed and we began to be invited to festivals, marriages and funerals. We were grafted into their community, and eventually praise songs were written by villagers who became grafted into God’s family through faith in Jesus. God had been faithful then to provide community (and He had done that for us with several moves) but would He provide for us in Houston too? Christmas came around for the second time after leaving our life in Asia, and I excitedly shared the story of God’s goodness as I gave those necklaces to five women rejoicing with each how God had answered my prayers through them. The sixth necklace I wear as a reminder of God’s blessings. May we never forget that God does not want there to be outsiders, but for everyone to be brought into His family, to be grafted in and share in the blessings of His rooted love!