A tree planted by rivers of water
Are you getting nourishment from the source that never goes dry, regardless of the state of the world?
(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author: A tree planted by rivers of water)
In the midst of a turbulent world, you can be like a tree planted by the water!
The time we’re living in
The time we’re living in has affected almost everyone; it has challenged how we think, changed how we act, and likely made many of us examine where we have our trust. People have watched their riches evaporate, their jobs disappear, and animosity develop between family and friends over new topics in the news and changes in society. Life’s “certainties” are no longer that, and there is a struggle to find any real answers or help.
In the midst of all this there is an outcry for equality and “human rights” as people’s inner fears and frustrations boil over, often in violent demonstration. What is it that everyone is so scared of? Why is there such a lack of peace and rest in the world?
Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
The fact is that people, in spite of Jesus’ words, have a tremendous amount of hope and investment here on the earth. All their energy and efforts have been to build up treasures here on earth that will sustain them and make their days here on earth as comfortable and pleasant as possible. The meaning of “earthly treasures” might vary from person to person, but sooner or later, all these various treasures are tested and people see “moth and rust destroying and thieves breaking in and stealing.”
Like a tree planted by the waters
The words of the Lord in Jeremiah say: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8.
We can think of different times of hardship as a drought that is over the world. Anxiety is everywhere as people are filled with unrest about their jobs, the economy, government, and almost anything else you can imagine. What contrast then to picture this glorious tree planted by the water! Instead of withering away and dying in this drought, there are still glorious fruits growing. The “heat” that has killed and destroyed almost all other vegetation has apparently had no effect on it. How is this possible?
In the “time of plenty” this glorious tree wasn’t content with putting down shallow roots; roots that fed off the surface. There was an inner longing in the tree to find the nutrients and sustenance that made for true nourishment. Feeling good about outer accomplishment and good works wasn’t enough when it sensed there was honor of man and selfish ambition behind it. A comfortable life andsuccess meant nothing to it when it only had an emptiness inside when confronted with eternity. A longing to break free from all earthly thoughts and chains and to fill the emptiness of its spirit drove it to put down these deep searching roots for true water. “How can I be truly free from selfishness? How can I be filled with rest and peace concerning my life and eternity?” In its need, it cried out to God for answers, for help to live a life of meaning here on earth, and to be led into eternity.
That’s when the roots struck water. God answered the tree with His Spirit and filled it with a desire for the things of heaven. The tree started to bear fruit as the Spirit began to instruct it in those things which are heavenly. The fruit isn’t much at first; the trials and hardships it faces are still met with human thoughts and reactions, as it takes an intense battle to separate itself from its own thoughts and come into the leading of God.
Roots that had their source in human thinking and self wither and die as deep searching roots shoot out to find true water and nourishment. These searching roots inquire of God through prayer and His word, longing for more of the power and sustenance they have already experienced. It is brought to verses such as Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” and it rejoices in its need. It sees that anxiety within stems from its own thoughts and plans for the future. God actually has a path of life planned out, and walking with Him on that path brings a fullness of joy! Its heart’s cry becomes more and more like Jeremiah’s: “My hope is the Lord and my trust is in Him!” Fruits of peace, joy, and love started flourishing as God leads it away from all unrest, discontent, and coldness and into His glorious promises.
In the midst of these times, we can also be such trees. Quietly carrying on, not worrying about the future and what might happen; fully at rest in the power of God and believing that He is leading all things for our best. (Romans 8:28.) Then blessed fruits will come forth in place of the anxieties, fears, and inequalities of this time. All trees who are along in this work on earth also secure for themselves their inheritance of heavenly treasures.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.