Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not e anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.”
These verses spoke to me this morning. I as go through the book of Jeremiah and the Psalms, it is so clear that God wants our hearts back, even in the midst of our deepest rebellions against Him.
I love the picture of the tree planted by water. I have a tree like this in my own yard. It’s planted about 20 feet from our pond, and in the midst of this summer, even when the grass turned brown and the flowers died off, this tree stayed strong. Its leaves stayed dark green, it is now producing and dropping acorns on the ground, and even though the ground around it is parched, this tree is rooted deeply enough that it does not have to go dormant in a time of drought or dryness. It does not have to slow down or wait for the waters to refresh it; because it has established itself near water, it has a constant supply of nourishment.
I love the words in verse 8: “[The tree] will not fear when the heat comes.” Whether it’s the heat of a dry summer or the heat of trials in life, this verse is true. But it’s dependent upon having roots, upon having a steady supply line. How true this is in life. When a moment arises that tests my faith, what is my first instinct? Fear? Worry? Anxiety? Or maybe Hope? Anticipation? On one hand, that sounds great. But as I read this verse, I wonder if it’s telling me more. The idea that I have hope or anticipation also comes with the idea that I recognize something is in need of change, that I believe things need to be changed. But in these verses, it seems like the tree just keeps living on, it gets its life from somewhere else; it was not dependent upon the rain in the first place. So when no rain comes, when no “encouragement” or “praise” or “big moment” happens, maybe it need not be a sign that something is wrong or that I need to pray hard, look for the turnaround… maybe I just need to remind myself that I take my nourishment and my strength from the Lord, and not from the circumstances that happen in my life.
I’ve been one to constantly look for hope in the midst of a storm. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a bit shallow? If I’m always “hoping” for things to change, or for a solution, it seems to me that I would believe that somehow the circumstances right now are somehow wrong, that they need to change, or else…. or else what? Or else I might be let down, I guess.
So I guess the question is, what does it mean to be firmly planted, not dependent upon the rain or the seasonal showers? What does that look like in life?
God, open my heart. Unveil places where I have not fully placed my trust in you, where I have not let go, where I still try to maintain control. God, make me wholey dependent upon You and You alone. If that means taking away the showers of blessing, DO IT. If that means taking away the moments of praise, DO IT. But Oh God, help me grow my roots. Help me establish my trust in you by looking back at Who You Are. Help me memorialize the many times you have come through and recognize that you are faithful, that you do long to have a daily, personal, and intimate relationship with me.
Lord, establish my wife as well. As I pray for her this week about things coming up this weekend, I also pray that you will establish her roots deeper in you each day. Plant us next to streams of your grace, next to ever-flowing rivers of your love, and help us to not simply trust you one moment at a time, but in every moment. Take away anxiety. Take away fear. Take away nervousness. And replace it, I pay, with trust, with confidence, and with peace.
Lord, be with my dear friend in the hospital as well. God, as I see this man have a “bad day” I am still impressed with his unwavering trust in you, with his lack of worry (visible, at least), and with his care for me, even while he suffers. Lord, restore him to good health, and comfort him in this time of struggle.
God, I pray also today for my friend on the DAB who is struggling with teens not walking with you, with teens rebelling against your system and their parents’ teaching. God, only you can touch some hearts, and even then, sometimes you must allow them to break first. Work in these lives, Oh God. Break them if you need to, but allow them to be restored as well, draw them to you, I pray.
Father, you know my thoughts with this friend of mine and his wife who are trying to have a baby. This couple is one of the most loving of children that I have seen, and their steady commitment to serve you and those around them is a blessing. God, grant them this joy, I pray, one way or the other. Give them the abundance they seek, in ways they could never imagine.
My dear Father, today I take the red pill. I choose to enter this life with my eyes open, with my heart available, and with my mind on you. Take these every day moments I am about to experience and use them for your glory.